I Garden at the Edge of Autumn
by Dick Westheimer
There is so little left of the tomato plants.
Just a few weeks ago, they hung arrayed in their rows
like royal green gowns draped off limbs as tough
as tendons. Each was jeweled with fruit
which, when bitten into, juiced a warm viscid chin-trickle –
found me fending off yellow jackets
who sought the same nip I did of that first burst of skin.
Now, here at the edge of autumn, I’ve picked
the last hangers-on from the dried vines:
a few pear-shaped Romas, a giant Brandywine,
a pair of velvety Black Krim –
each an ornament of summer still holding on
to their stems – twined brittle and leafless,
a little carbon for the compost pile.
This afternoon, with age-ached hands, I untangle those remains,
rake the ground clean, and dig last year’s compost
into the bare bed. I prepare for the planting of garlics
which I’ll tuck in under a blanket of rotting leaves,
to sprout green next spring.