SURPRISES



This morning's red sun licks dew from the hundred
California peppers that never set fruit in
my Zone-Three garden. After fifteen summers

of failure why this year do I suffer
the glut of inordinate success? They hang
in clustered pairs like newly hatched sex organs.

Doubtless this means I am approaching
the victory of poetry over death
where art wins, chaos retreats, and beauty

albeit trampled under barbarism
rises again, shiny with roses, no thorns.
No earwigs, cutworms, leaf miners either.

Mother's roses climbed the same old latticework
trellis until it shattered under their weight
and she mourned the dirtied blossoms more, I thought,

than if they'd been her children. She pulled on
goatskin gloves to deal with her arrangements
in chamberpots, pitchers, and a silver urn.

I watched, orphan at the bakeshop window.
It took all morning. Never mix species
or colors, she lectured. It cheapens them.

At the end of her long life she could reel off
the names of all the cart horses that had
trundled through her childhood, and now that I

look backward longer than forward, nothing
too small to remember, nothing too slight
to stand in awe of, her every washday

Monday baked stuffed peppers come back to me
full of the leftovers she called surprises.


Maxine Kumin
from Bringing Together: Uncollected Early Poems 1958-1988.
W.W. Norton
I prayed for this: a modest swatch of land
where I could garden,
an ever-flowing spring close by,
and a small patch of woods above the house.
The gods gave all I asked and more.
I pray for nothing more, but that these blessings last my life's full term.
~ Horace
More Poems
LAUNDRY DAY
LINKS
SHOE BOX
SITE MAP
SCRAPBOOK
POETRY
VIEWS
QUOTES
Spring/At Great Pond
Earth, Your Dancing Place
Angels
In Blackwater Woods
In the Library
Clear as Mud
Mockingbirds
Pinup
Sabbaths 2001
Center
Morning Poem
Aunt Leaf
The Peace of Wild Things
An Observation
The Calf-Path
Sometimes, I Am Startled...
The Visitation
Wings
Praise Song
Putting in a Window
Monet Refuses the Operation
A Blessing
Making a Living
The Poetry Bus
Homemaking
Old Woman in a Housecoat
Soundings
My Father's Lunch
Lightening the Load
Thoughts in a Garden
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WELCOME!
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Wild Card
Appeal to the Grammarians
Bread Soup
Explaining Relativity to a Cat
In Praise of Craziness
Martha
Pastoral
Thus Spake the Mockingbird
Trust
Undelivered Mail
Winter Is the Best Time
Surprises
Reading History
Radiator
Song of the Open Road
I Chop Some Parsley
Cowboy Poetry
DIURNAL
walking
To the Man in a Loden Coat
Fermanagh Cave
Highway Five Love Poem
School Day Afternoon
Late for Summer Weather
Quilts
So Much Happiness
Employed
Te Deum
The Testing-Tree
Vacuuming Spiders
Six Significant Landscapes
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Reconsidering the Seven
They'll
Miscellaneous Poetry