Mignonette

My father planted, every May,
    the same old mignonette.
He told me: That’s the only way
    you’re sure of what you’ll get.

You reap whatever crop you sow,
    so think, before you plant,
exactly what you want to grow,
    because a gardener can’t

pull out the seed in mid-July
    he sank in early June
or, looking at the evening sky,
    undo the afternoon.

Now that I’ve started gardening,
    I understand that all
the things I father in the spring
    I’ll gather in the fall.

I’ll make my bed and lie on it
    till autumn comes to plow
the garden under and commit
    the earth to earth. But now

I’ve seen the seeds my parents knew
    would gently germinate;
the dainty shoots my parents grew,
    sweet to anticipate;

the seedlings that my parents thinned,
    predictable as rain—
and I would rather sow the wind
    and reap a hurricane.

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