Do we really own the land or are we just caretakers of this particular spot of earth? In this beautiful poem written by my mother in 1969, she describes her adoration of the beautiful place our family calls home.
You can see why I am so passionate about words in the way she uses them here. It’s exciting and vibrant. I want to swat away the bugs and I can smell the dirt and hear the birds chirping as they flit through the sky around me. And I am reminded that we borrow the earth, we can never own it.
Long years I thought of it and now
I have bought my garden;
I saw it, desired it, asked for it,
And gave the man some money for it.
It is my garden now, isn’t it?
My mind answers yes, my soul, no!
I cannot own what is universal;
I cannot lay claim to ageless change;
I cannot buy the memories of other footsteps
Treading the same winding paths.
My garden is a meadow, a hill,
A river, trees, gooseberries, thistles,
The spring-popped morel, the dainty columbine,
The delicate warm breeze of summer
Laughing gently at my folly.
It is bugs, myriad swarms of clinging,
Flying, buzzing insects, sticking to my
Sweaty skin as I labor to trim,
Control, govern the lush new growth
Of a wanton spring.
But I cannot own these things.
Does one entrap the wind, command
It to gently soothe a hot, dusty face?
Does one really own free-flying birds
And deer who call my garden home?
I may live here, too, at peace with
The wild things whose roots stretch far
Deeper into this black dirt than mine. I am
Merely a guest, content to
Borrow the beauty of my garden.
The trees will grow here long after
I die. They will watch others till
My garden. The over-arching boughs of
The leaning walnut on the hillside gives
Its benediction to my garden.
May 28, 1969