Creatures Who Must Know Better Have Taken Me for a Blossomfrom Place of Passage: Contemporary Catholic Poetry ed. David Craig and Janet McCann (Ashland, OR: Story Line Press, 2000) p. 91-2
This year Kennebec and Red Pontiac,
last year's russet and white kobblers
done in by my nematodes, flea beetles,
early and late blight. Maybe it's
the 1/4 Irish blood that's made me drunk
with promise, though wasn't it Ali,
stung by his loss to Holmes,
who explained it, "I had the world,
and let me tell you, it wasn't nothing"?
You see, I cut them as if they were diamonds,
with a studied, precise stroke. All this,
the voice of reason reminds me,
for what I could buy in a reusable
mesh bag. But I'm stubborn
in the middle of God's own metaphor
dropping potatoes into loamy dirt,
while ruby-throated hummingbirds
take my red shirt for the biggest bee balm
they've ever seen. Their wings flapping
at an angel's pace, they taste my only
holiness, my sweat. I want to tell
my father what's happened, tell him
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to drink too much
and sleep it off on the job he got me,
didn't mean to get caught by a man named Earl
who had no eyebrows and was his boss.
None of that was planned any more
than he'd planned on the family's
Salvation Army clothes, his cars that never ran,
those late-night trips upstairs to bleed
the radiators, or turn off a fan,
any reason to stand a while
and watch us sleep. After Mass
the children would go to grandmother's garden
to weed, water, and sometimes dig dinner
in our underwear, while she washed
our Sunday suits and we kids pretended
to be flowers.
I learned today that today [well, beginning at sundown] is Purim, so I wanted to find a poem of blood and triumph and celebration, a poem of action and rejoicing even was we observe these desert days.
However, this was rather last-minute and I have a limited collection to draw from. So the relevance of this poem to Lent or Purim is debateable. But here it is.