The back door faces north. The pail I left

in the rain has formed a hoop of dirty ice,

dry and hard as iron. The air’s a vice

that clamps the ribs and almost stops the breath.

I’m planting garlic. Soil, forked over only

yesterday, is rigid now; the spade strikes

and sings aloud, as though I had hit stone.

With cold red fingers I tamp in the moonlike

cloves, carefully set them in fresh compost

from my heap, which, even in this freezing

season, is warm and sweet. I chop with my trowel

at lumps, trying to form a tilth; kneeling

in white rime I imagine summer’s tossed

lettuce, endives, capers, vinegar, olive oil.


from Bradford & Beyond: a sonnet journal (Flambard, 1997), © Gerard Benson 1997, used by permission of the author.

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