Gardening in Autumn
by Andrea L. Alterman


She kneels on the damp soil, her hands encased in old dirty
green gray gloves. November roses lean over her head as she
pulls out dark purple asters and trims back a late blooming iris
which has spent its color before it was due. She wipes her hair
back, mixes some fertilizer around her old azaleas, pauses to stroke
a stray red flower and murmurs to the leaves. I watch her picking
out dead grass by the roots, the trowel caked with mud and rust,
she turns aside to pluck a bulb from her basket, plants it and moves
on. Next year’s irises she tells me, they will be glorious. And I nod,
wondering about the crocuses instead, the snow drops that sprout
in February before equinox arrives. Then I come up to help her
pull the crab grass, trim the lilac bush, and caress a warm stone
at the base of our old red oak tree.






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