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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 15: Sept. 2022
Prose Poem: 595 words
By Gary Grossman

Joys of Gardening


So I walk out to the back-yard garden, four double-dug beds, sheathed in six-foot-high, anti-deer, plastic mesh that actually should reach to eight feet but like my current belly, the stuff flops over on itself, though it’s still okay (the fence, not my belly), because it doesn’t work by being un-jumpable or stronger than 125-pound deer, but through its lack of odor and visibility, since deer detest all barriers they can’t smell or see, and this odorless and eye-squinting barrier has saved my garden for the last fifteen years, because these neighborhood bungee rats have no fear of humans, and cruise our yard like some lap swimmer at the neighborhood pool, and even bring their cute as a button, white-spotted fawns, who gambol and destroy our unfenced flowers, and shrubbery, and I’m thinking back to that spring night fifteen years and two weeks ago, when in a single nocturnal foray these varmints took out an entire seventeen by five-foot bed of mixed lettuces: Little Gem, Red Oak Leaf, Batavia, Spotted Trout, Red Sails, Black Seeded Simpson, and Bibb—a bed as intricate and colorful as any piece of millefiori glass from Murano, and my ten-week-old leafy collage ripped up and clipped to the roots sometime between midnight and six AM, which led to my learning how to construct a fence.

Today is July 27th, so lettuce passed its finals and put away its books two months ago, and today the garden sports typical summer veggies, cherry tomatoes, red, green, and sweet banana peppers, Ichiban (i.e., best) eggplant, Rattlesnake pole beans, and Dragon’s Tongue bush beans. However, squash has an amber alert out—having disappeared from the garden over a decade ago—because we live in the land of an evil bug called a squash vine borer, and those little fuckers eat squash vines like a sorority girl eats sushi when the boyfriend is paying—hence, no zucchini, no patty pan, no standard-bearer of the South, the yellow crookneck, but in a pity-purchase a few years back I bought a packet of hand-packed heirloom Seminole Pumpkin seeds from the daughter of a friend, who also is a famous writer, a kindness really because we all support each other’s kids regardless of the ask, and the package was cute as a 12-year-old’s pink baby doll pajamas—of course I bought them, thinking all the while of those murderous vine borers, which actually are the larvae of an orange and black moth that looks like it’s going trick-or-treating, so on a lark, I threw a few out in an open patch in the flower bed, and fuck me if they didn’t sprout and produce a few squash, before those long-legged rats ate every leaf off the plant.

The squash were damn good and now I’ve planted them in the northwest garden bed, but they are taking over the entire garden, I guess nine seeds in three hills simply was a botanical overreach, and they’re starting to climb the deer fence, which wouldn’t be a problem but for the fact that the netting isn’t strong enough to support two-pound squashes, and I read somewhere that you could make slings for them out of nylon stockings, but who wears nylons any more, especially here at the south end of North Georgia where even May shows everyone her triple digits, and at this point I’m just struggling with how to handle these overly successful squash plants.

Gary Grossman
Issue 15, September 2022

is Professor of Fisheries at University of Georgia. For 10 years he wrote the “Ask Dr. Trout” column for American Angler. His first book of poems, Lyrical Years, is forthcoming in 2023 from Aldrich Press.

In 2021 and 2022, Gary’s poetry has appeared in Verse-Virtual, Poetry Life and Times, Your Daily Poem, Poetica, Trouvaille Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Poetry Superhighway, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Knot, Delta Poetry Review, and Last Stanza Poetry Review; his essays were published in Alaska Magazine and American Angler; and his flash fiction, in MacQueen’s Quinterly. Hobbies include running, music, fishing, gardening, and cooking.

Author’s website: www.garygrossman.net

And his writing blog: https://garydavidgrossman.medium.com/

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