I don’t post nearly as many Saturday Snippets as I used to; that was something I started when I was housebound, healing from a broken shoulder and unable to garden. But I have just discovered a poem, “Transplanting”, by Lee Ann Roripaugh, and it took my breath away, especially the fourth section:
4. DalmatianThere is an art to this. To shishkebab the varnished pit of avocadoon three toothpicks above a pickle jarof cool water, tease down the palethirsty hairs of root until one sinewyarm punches up and unclenches its greenfisted hand, palm open, to the sun.To discern the oniony star-strucksubterfuge of bulbs, their perversedesires, death-like sleeps, and conspirebehind the scenes to embroiderthe Elizabethan ruffles and festoonsof their flamboyant resurrections.To trick the tomatoes into letting downtheir swelling, tumescent orbsin the cottony baked heat of the atticuntil their sunburnt faces glowlike round orange lanterns underthe crepuscular twilight of the eaves.Unwrapping the cuttings of succulentsfrom their moist, paper-towel bandages,and snugging them down into firmdimples of dirt and peat, coaxing upthe apple-green serpentine coils of sweetpea with a snake charmer’s song to windaround the trellis and flicker their quickpink-petaled tongues. The tender slipsof mint, sueded upturned bells of petunia,and slim fingers of pine that pluckthe metal window screen like a tin harpby the breakfast nook where my fatherstirs his morning coffee and waitsfor the neighbors’ Dalmatian to hurlitself over the back fence and hang,limply twisting and gasping on the endof its chain and collar like a polka-dottedpetticoat, until my father goes outsideand takes its baleful kicking weightin his arms and gently tosses it backover the fence into the neighbors’ yard.Year after year, the dandelionsand clover are weeded out, summerscome and go, and roots stubbornly inchdown around the foundation of the house—labyrinthine, powerful and deep.