Gardening in Cardoso

By Michael Longley

Wildflowers become weeds

In this small triangular

Garfagnana garden

Where I uproot herb robert,

Spurge, wall-devouring

Valerian, garlicky

Ramsons, dead nettles.

What about oregano

No higher than dogs' piss,

And pennywort protecting

The lizard's hideaway?

I cut back the wild fig tree,

Its roots under the casa

Squeezing our water pipes,

Dozy snails its only fruit.

From acacia-beeless,

Unrelieved-a sexual

Heaviness marries me

And five old women-last

In the village to chant

The Whitsun rosary next

Door at San Rocco's shrine.

I leave them shepherd's purse's

Seedpods-little hearts-

Spoon-shaped petals on spikes.