The Gardener

In Memory of Dorothy Pitman Hughes

Years ago, I was honored to meet a friendly, gracious woman at a book festival in Jacksonville. She inspired me to write something in her honor, which (like most of my poems,) I’ve kept tucked away. This piece is dedicated to the great feminist, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, who passed away earlier this month.

The Gardener

The gardener is a daughter

who raised

fists full of power

among her sisters.

She brushes aside her soft,

African crown, unclenching her only

armament, to show the

children how to

plant

our tiny seeds.

“The wind will lift them right out of our

hands…,” she says.

“They are so light.”

The children enter the

garden, stepping into the

rain-soaked

soil, their baby shoes

sucked

downward, and then

released.

“A garden,” she teaches,

“needs constant

tending.”

Little fingers, well-taught,

stretch to touch the

fuzz-prickled stems, and the

berries, not yet

red.

Eager eyes dart, always back to

their teacher. “I see them!”

joyful voices ring.

“I see them!”

Acolytes all, she’ll raise them, too

on the recipe Our Lady handed

her, a long, long time

ago. She can still remember its luscious

weight upon her tongue.

Made just and right, it is

the sweetest there is—and ever will

be.

She calls her disciples to join

her at the table.

They remember to be

thankful

before they

partake.

She remembers the

four

in Birmingham.

Girls,

forever left

behind.

The gardener tends her

brood, then closes

her eyes to savor their

snack-time clucking. Music!

The sweetest there is,

and ever will

be.

Soon will come a story, delicately

served.

And then?

She will sing them to sleep, planting

tiny, august dreams for each and

every

soul.

Today, the gardener waits.

Still.

Patient.

She awaits the moment when

all her naptime gardeners

will

finally

awaken.

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