Poem: Jobs for the Weekend

The work of the garden is never merely human work. The animals, insects and plants join in labor with the gardener, sometimes in harmony with human plans, but just as often thwarting or diverting them. This is one way a garden becomes a paradox: Its purported peace is the total effect of the garden’s frenetic, multispecies, conflict-rich choreography. Oki Sogumi’s “Jobs for the Weekend” captures not some placid, ideal garden, but a real one — edgy, animate and bustling. Selected by Anne Boyer

Credit…Illustration by R. O. Blechman

Jobs for the Weekend

By Oki Sogumi

Nymph, the curly garlic clove
Boating in the bean pot
The drumming of plums and striped
Beetle’s disease or jumping worm
Pepper plants can branch horizontal
But arrows always down
In the domestic garden I still have a job
And the catbird yells but follows me
For 200 days I’ve summoned this
Language, the meow of the frenemy
Sleaving the gray
Particle from light

Anne Boyer is a poet and an essayist. Her memoir about cancer and care, “The Undying,” won a Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for general nonfiction. Oki Sogumi is a writer and K-Drama fan who lives in Philadelphia, where she gardens for moths. Her book “Poems (2012-17)” was published by Face Press (U.K.).

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