Thursday, March 23, 2006


(written for the CBC Canada Reads program, incorporating Canadian book titles)

the backyard seethes with the ravenous whirring of weed whackers

and I’m outside crouched low

listening to the deafening complaints of plants

Yes, I say, I know the complicated road that you were born to hoe

how the crackpot phonecalls of the cocksure house plants tell you only one thing:

Canada weeds, their leaves say

Canada weeds so there’ll soon be rooms for rent in the land of the outer plants

selected homes for new conscripts into the brotherhood of the rose

it’s about survival in the garden

and the politics of lawn enforcement

those who don’t believe in this good life will find King Green Grass Riding Mower roving over,

burying them under forever like Rover the dead dog’s bone,

lost and rockbound beneath the broken ground

Yes, I say, it’s the garden of weeding, all over again,

and even the tree of knowledge is in peril

he who weeds, weeds Canada like a book

pruning from the green library

the purple prose in the hymn of a vine

coming through to slaughter with his trick knife

the life of pine

and verse is no better

the scanned creepers of poetry must surrender also

to the complicated kindness of weed whacker and sickle

to the culling of unrequited dreams in the tangled garden

the slow tide of nightfall making the river midnight

happy shades dancing over the clear cut lawn

Actually, a plant replies

as for me and my houseplants,

we get along just fine

sure they phone and we complain

but here in the garden

there’s no great mischief

rather it’s a fine balance between those who have seen the wind

and those who have felt but the cool breeze of the air conditioner

the love of a good warm vent

weeding’s not something that would make us

fall on our knees

if we had knees

our worst fears are the hounds

the runners in the family

careening through the yard

turning our beds into a three dog road

a single evening into a three day night

these excursions through our world after dark are

hardly a recipe for peace

but rather what a body remembers

but Canada weeds, I say, Canada trims.

what of the blind assassins, the hoe and shears,

what of the wars, the critical injuries

the famous last words of flowers?

memory is an involuntary storyteller

the plant tells me, though we try to forget.

weeding is national selection

a small price for growing wild and free on our native land

while inside, the houseplants

are roughing it in the plush of ghosts and carpeting

the world of feather dusters, humidifiers

and encouraging words

I remember once

my friend a tall sunflower was toppled

taken to hospital

ah such a long gurney

one that shall forever be burned in our vines

yes, we see the house plants’ smug crystal stare through the window

but we do not fear their self-assured house calls

the weeding of their masters

we are the music of what happens

we ascend as the rain ascends

we reach as birds

to bring forth the sky

we are difficult roses

the unbridled shrub

we are the noble cabbage


Kate S. said...

I really enjoyed hearing you read this one at the IV Lounge. It's great to have the opportunity now to see it on the page, or rather, on the screen.

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