Tending the Plot

Of all human activities, apart from the procreation of children,
gardening is the most optimistic and hopeful.
Susan Hill

On her knees she toiled
the narrow allotment of sour soil
shovelled above her parents’ coffins.
Her fingers teased out roots.

I was sent to fetch water,
to rinse green scum from the jar
where flowers were left to die.

Now she’s buried there herself,
husband’s ashes at her halted feet.
The plot’s full and snug as families,
the black stone chock-a-block with facts.

I’m bent-backed elsewhere,
uprooting weeds, fumbling seed,
coaxing from the damp earth
all the colour and the scent I can.

Angela Topping
(From Letting Go, Mother’s Milk Books)