The clay clings to the shovel;
I have to keep scraping it off because
otherwise all it does is cling more and
then it cakes up and then I really
get frustrated. I keep stopping to
scrape and soon my hands and feet are
coated in dirt, the blacks of top soil and
the dark browns of something called
composted cow manure and the
billions of atoms of peat moss covering
me and sticking to the dirt smears on
my jeans and t-shirt. As soon as I wipe
sweat from my face I know I’ve smeared
dirt there too because I can taste it.
I push the shovel down into black dirt
then through a mix of blacks and grays
and finally the tan of solid hard-packed
Missouri clay that is soft and pliable as iron.
Digging in clay is like digging in a tan
brick, a chip here and there but generally
just forget it. But the hole is now deep
enough and filled with enough good
stuff to get this rosebush off to a fair
start, this bush that will produce a flower
named Janet of pinks and ivories and
perhaps salmon. Three feet away sits
another rose, this one named
Christopher Marlowe like that friend of
Will and it writes Renaissance plays while
it waits patiently for its hole too.
Nancy Rosback, Lord High Executioner of the Cunning Poet Society, provided the poetry prompt for April to all of us cunning poets. The prompt was to write a poem based on the first thing that came to mind when you heard the word “Dig.” Since I had five rosebushes, a lilac and a dozen perennials waiting to be planted, I knew what I had to write.
The Cunning Poet Society was founded by Nancy on Facebook. Our motto is "I'd rather be a cunning poet than a dead poet."