Nature and Nurture

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The poem below lays itself out slowly and carefully and turns on the very last line.

Community Garden by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

I watch the man bend over his patch,
a fat gunny sack at his feet. He combs the earth

with his fingers, picks up pebbles around
tiny heads of sorrel. Clouds bruise in, clog the sky,

the first fat drops pock-mark the dust.
The man wipes his hands on his chest,

opens the sack, pulls out top halves
of broken bottles, and plants them, firmly,

over each head of sorrel — tilting the necks
toward the rain. His back is drenched, so am I,

his careful gestures clench my throat,
wrench a hunger out of me I don’t understand,

can’t turn away from. The last plant
sheltered, the man straightens his back,

swings the sack over his shoulder, looks
at the sky, then at me and — as if to end

a conversation — says: I know they’d survive
without the bottles, I know. He leaves the garden,

plods downhill, blurs away. I hear myself
say it to no one: I never had a father.


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