In this dream, I am in the garden of my childhood,
my vegetable garden that I planted first at age twelve
and then every year thereafter until I left home.
On the sprawling half-acre despised by my mother
after the death of my father for what she perceived
as necessary upkeep: my sisters and I mowed, my brother
pruned the dozen fruit trees, the tiny barn slumped
and succumbed to rampant Himalayan blackberries .
The boysenberries and raspberries just gave up.
But in this dream, recurring monthly since I was eighteen
(and I reached the half-century mark a year ago),
it's late summer, and my garden suffers from neglect:
not enough water, weeds are prominent, the unthinned
carrots and lettuces barely formed. I hurry to restore
what little remains before the season turns; drag rusted
watering cans across the yard, tender a trowel, loosen
hard-packed earth. Every month in my sleep I return
to this garden and awaken filled with a sense of dwindling
hope. But lately the dream has shifted: there are hoses
and sprinklers to ease irrigation, there is more sunlight.
In fact, the light has taken on a deep golden radiance,
suffusing each plant (and me, I suppose) with an inner source
of fire. And the garden renews itself, the tomatoes plump
and lush, the cornsilk glistening, the rosemary and sage
fragrant and robust. Last night while inhabiting this landscape
I realized I no longer had to work so hard, so I just sat down
amid parsley and potatoes, amazed at the tidiness of the rows,
the absence of dandelions and crabgrass. The dream
had a soundtrack -- I think Patty Griffin was singing --
and it blasted loudly throughout the neighborhood,
the woods, the fields beyond. Complete and utter