Bertha Rogers


Who could love this book of hours, fruit
trees trussed and bound to sandstone walls?
November constricts the vegetable plot;
blackened mass of beet tops. The lettuce
attempts fealty, but weather will finish it.
What the garden seems to desire is a return
to gracious conditions -- peasants in white
smocks cultivating marjoram and parsley.

I run into lumped firewood every
time I unlatch that black gate. The garden
anticipates my departure; its cruel, sussurant
gossip can't wait. Still, I return, again and
again, watching ripped clouds, blundering into
piles of leaves. In the greenhouse, it must be
told, grape vines let go interlaced supports.

What this garden needs is less green, more
hardy plants, a woody stock-who will advise
the steward? -- cobblestone paths. Who
will rake, till the soil? Cold silence is what
these walls, the garden now own; and wind,
rooks, jackdaws --. Over there, in the far
corner, where grass bedevils the foundation,
someone tries to mend -- see the needle?
thread? -- the broken pages of autumn.

Bertha Rogers' poems and critical reviews have appeared in such journals as Many Mountains Moving, Connecticut Review, Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, Chelsea, Pivot, Yankee, and Barrow Street. Her poetry collections include Sleeper, You Wake (Edwin Mellon, 1991), For the Girl Buried in the Peat Bog (Six Swans Artists Editions, 1999) and A House of Corners, winner of the Maryland State Poetry Literary Society and Review Competition (Three Conditions Press, Baltimore, Md, 2000). She is the founding director and editor in chief of Bright Hill Press and administrator of the New York State Council on the Arts Literary Curators website,



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