Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dirty Deeds


image from motherearthnews.com


Dirty Deeds

“My music has roots which I dug up from my
childhood--musical roots buried in the darkest
soil.”--Ray Charles.

Within the grand & colossal concrete
     canyons, we use window boxes and
        balcony pots to place commercial hardware
     store top soil so that we can grow things;
you know like carrots,
                       marijuana,
                       baby banzai,
                       cherry tomatoes,
                       chives & herbs,
                       exotic ferns,
                       colorful flowers,
                       & pigmy corn.

Of course, not everyone enjoys
gardening, accepting that awesome
responsibility of tending something
alive & dependent--guess it just
depends on where & when one
was introduced to it.

I love coming across reclaimed
empty lots, or grimy alleys where
people had erected raised beds 
of imported dirt, places where 
city slickers could raise beautiful
& delicious crops.

One summer I romanced a woman I had met in
college, who lived off the grid, with no indoor
plumbing, no electricity, bathing in a nearby
creek, heating with a converted 50 gallon oil
barrel--in a rough-hewn cabin, with a loft for
a bedroom under a skylight. She was a talented
jewelry maker, & she went to town & craft fairs
to sell her wares.

She had two green thumbs--could grow anything
it seemed. She’d recruit me to work with her in a
half-acre garden, trading “sex for labor” as she was
fond of saying. She placed large blue plastic rain
barrels under the down spouts

                             After several grueling hours of
                      working in the dirt with my bare
                  hands, I experienced a kind of
           transformation, an epiphany, whereby
        somehow I connected with the soil,
became one with the earth as the
moist black dirt caked my nostrils
& clothes & boots-- but as much as
I enjoyed all that,  I think I was there
more for the woman than for the
dusty siren song of the soil, or the
lure of the fecund land.

The earth is mother
for each of us, a pity
we disrespect her.


Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub

17 comments:

Frank Hubeny said...

Nice description of your early romance and her relationship with the soil. I liked her description of payment for your help as "sex for labor".

indybev said...


What an idyllic interlude! My mother had that connection with the soil. Alas, my connection seemed to be with books and words. Beautifully written, my friend.

Mark Walters said...

I prefer to share crop. You did indeed get to taste the fruits of your labors though, both ways

Victoria said...

Wonderful, Glenn. I really like your description of those efforts to grow in the concrete jungle--the window boxes, the raised beds in empty lots. How we need to be connected to the earth. Loved the haiku, too. BTW, I think we were so lucky to be young when we had to use our imagination for play, be outside and get dirty.

Grace said...

What a realization that can be Glenn - to be connected to mother earth. I do not have a green thumb so I am envious of those who can grow a lovely flowers and fresh vegetables. How sad indeed that we do not take her of our planet.

Truedessa said...

I enjoyed the poem. I think we learn and grow in the journey through relationships with others and the earth. My grandmother was great with plants and gardens and I remember helping her dig in her garden. It was during these times she would share stories about life.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is by far my favourite from you, Glenn. Its so touching.. so detailed giving one a picture of your life, of the person you are. Beautifully penned.

Sascha Darlington said...

This works on so many levels. It's so honest and detailed.

brudberg said...

I love how you almost gave in to the soil... maybe just maybe if the woman had lured you even deeper your thumbs would have turned green too...

Paul Bauck said...

A wonderful memory that you describe so well I feel like I shared it. Except I don't remember the sex part, just the gardening.

Kim Russell said...

I love the title, Glenn,and the quote, which introduce an honest, gritty poem, cinematic and autobiographical. I remember planting up all sorts of containers before I was lucky enough to have a garden. It's so rewarding. One year my daughter and I grew sunflowers and marigolds in the big windows of our first floor flat. I so admire those urban gardeners who reclaim wasteland. Strains of Ladies of the Canyon in this poem, Glenn.


Maria said...

Oh wow. What a pensive write.

Cedar Wind said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this Glenn.

Amaya Engleking said...

So your forest nymph taught you a great life lesson. Perhaps she was an incarnation of Mother Earth herself? Wonderful style of writing, Glenn.

grapeling said...

we should all be so lucky to have an earth goddess ~

paulscribbles said...

Such a well written piece Glenn. The lure of the goddess, both human and earth, is described here in such a beautiful way. I was right there with dirt on my hands.

lynn__ said...

Clever title! I'd admire someone with 2 (!) green thumbs...although you obviously admired more than her thumbs.