Maryann Corbett



Gardening tip: Avoid invasive exotics and use plants native to your region.

July, and heaven help my garden.
For years I let it have its way.
Now neighbors’ faces pinch and harden
while my nonnatives range and stray:
the maple, its promiscuous seeding
whelming their diligent hand-weeding;
tawny daylilies shouldering past
our shared fence. But what limit lasts
in nature? Forms ideal as Plato’s
yield to the creeping-charlie’s creep.
Grapevines come for us in our sleep.
Raspberries infiltrate tomatoes,
front-line troops on a tireless quest.
I’ve failed the eco-friendly test,

but I’ve got reasons. Resolution
wilts to recall how flowers I tried
uttered their florid elocution
once—maybe twice—and promptly died:
peonies, poppies, coreopsis,
the dismal yearly thanatopsis
of hardly hardy hybrid teas.
(The money blown away on these!)
Only the stolid lived, whose forces
muscled through frost-heaved winter kill.
What stuck it out against wind chill—
surviving on its own resources,
poking fresh suckers up at sun—
was the right stuff. I let it run.

It ran. And now a stiff abrasive
tsk-ing chafes against the less-
than-ornamental, stealth-invasive
fruits of my laissez-faire largesse.
I made my plans; the plants finessed them.
Lounging, I watch the sprinkler bless them,
spattering with its bright jeux d’eau
their greenly generous overflow.
I, a descendant of invaders,
hold with admixture, change, and chance
and smile at what the randy dance
of wind wafts in. Forgive me, neighbors.
Plans are a froth, a bagatelle.
Things might be different once I sell.

Maryann Corbett spent thirty-five years working for the Minnesota Legislature but is now in recovery. She is the author of six books of poetry, most recently In Code, from Able Muse Press, and The O in the Air, from Franciscan U. Press.