Robert C. Knox
I am a husband, father, rabid backyard gardener, and blogger on nature, books, films and other subjects based on the premise that there's a garden metaphor for everything. Still utopian and idealistic after all these years, I cover the arts for the Boston Globe's 'South' regional sections and also write about environmental issues. My short stories, poems, book reviews, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous literary publications. I was named a Finalist in the Massachusetts Artist Grant Program for a story about my "greatest generation" father.
G A R D E N L O V E R S
We make of nature another room.
A big room if we have a big space,
an ordinary room if the space is small.
Make it comfortable, decorate a little
Make a place to sit. A place to eat.
A place to cook, conditions permitting,
The sun shining, the breezes light –
All this works best if the weather is right
Here’s a clue, for me and you –
Wait for the sun to warm things up
Warm is desirable for living outdoors
Warm is “natural,” room temperature outdoors
Come on out (or in?)
Look, we have company: It’s the Plant Family!
They come in uninvited
Work with them
We can’t beat them even if we tried
We want to make a difference
Something beautiful will grow up between us
See? What did I just say?
It’s starting, we can’t escape it
We too are made of earth
We want to live outdoors
Pass the wine, pick the strawberries
Drop your fig leaf, honey,
You have dirt beneath your fingernails.
Parsing of Names
Covered in a sticky substance
You get stigma on your nose
Petals attract insects
Be more bee-like
Follow the guidelines
The style varies in length
The ovary will become the fruit
How like life
The ovule is like the egg
But it wants to be a seed
The receptacle hugs the stem
Throw something in there
Pull a strawberry out
Down below is the nectary,
Sugar, sugar bowl for insects
Sepals do security
Hey, bud, get growing
Filament: this is the stalk of the author —
No — “anther”!
And the anther is?
Short answer: anther, pollen sacs, insect, stigma (here or somewhere else in town: no one can make a rule for insects), ovule, fertilization.
Yes, there are female parts: stigma, style, ovary, ovule; known collectively as the carpel
And male parts: filament, anther, together called stamen.
As in most groups, there are more of the females.
Please click to print for children.
Flowers are the sex organs
Of hot momma nature.
We all love the colors, the shapes,
The delicate constructions.
They bring us together.
Do not ask what makes
that deep, persistent buzz
that hovers above Zouave jackets and bell-flared trousers,
transparent angel wings extended,
and wiggles its butt between stamen and pistil.
The Garden Czar
A new campaign, a new front.
I am moving peoples, tribes. Colonies.
I bid them pick up all that they own and journey to the land
which I have prepared for them, or will,
when I have finished dumping them by the roots into a plastic pail,
and take up my oversized hand trowel for the next thrust in world building.
I am, at times, a careless God.
Still, my people will long remember the adventures of this day
and speak of them for generations to come.
(Every spring, I am confident, is a new generation.)
I am the Czarist factotum who tells Tevye and his village to clear out by Friday:
Orders from the top.
Of course I am also the top.
The Scripture of Nature
Some nonchalant immortal turns the page to autumn
On cue, sweet day slips off her shawl, growing warm, sultry, reminiscent
The husband walks the garden in shirtsleeves, thinking of nothing
Everything is semi-shade now, the sun at half-mast
The Morning Glory explores its name
Blooms clinging to the house like a band of nervous orphans
Blood-purple asters peak, already penciling in their winter vacation
(Somewhere you won’t see them)
The toad lilies not yet ready to change their spots
A single cricket keeps up a cracked tenor solo —
a late phase song: he’s studied all the great romantics
Give him a few more degrees of autumn’s comeback love
And he makes up with the universe: gotta sing! gotta sing!
High up in the gathering season a squirrel beeps his barking little horn
squawking at the cat, black and disinterested, who plays possum with time
And so it is written
That a walk in a garden is a prayer routine
Natural places are “thought sinks”:
Emotion sinks, agitation sinks.
They absorb the world’s disturbances.
Walking on the equipoise of the year,
We tread like garden monks of peerless devotion,
But who invited that tacky squirrel?
The Name of the Flower
Anemone. It’s the name that speaks to me,
The name that is its own poem.
When all else fails, a single green plant begins to flower
Pink, daisy-shaped, soft fleshy ears around a clock face of yellow
Coming so late; a message from another world
Buds round and puffy before they open.
With such buds you know what is coming
You wait, like a lover, for the sensuous unfolding,
A prolonged anticipation of the moment.
Do not (a voice tells me) make love to a flower.
But it’s timing, as in music, as in love, that lands the punch.
September: the turn in the year,
The turn in the poem of earth.
Not so showy as some,
They keep their heads down
No one calls them “cheerful, sun-loving”
But deep-feeling, hearty, September’s half-light loving
They smile, contemplatively
They soak up thoughts too deep for words.
Consider the Bee
Consider the honeybee.
How in summer you never see one unmoving
Pollinating the hours in and out of flowers
Now, chilling, they seem to stick to the flower head
As if dead, or frozen, or honey-stuck to the beloved
Soaking up sun, or waiting for it
Soaking up the scent, or nectar of the bloom
Or the fruit and flower, the air itself, the hour, the mind of summer
Wherever a bee may hold such thoughts
So too with us at harvest time
Leaves wheel their colors against a depthless sky.
Apple orchards and rows of black and blue berries the color of dusk
Inhale the bloom, drink in the fruit with your long, pointy eyes,
The lenses of the brain.
©2014 Robert C. Knox