New potatoes. Aren't they beautiful? My Irish ancestors are so proud.

During the pandemic we tore up most of our small urban backyard to build raised garden beds. Three years later, we are humbled, and learning, and have fed countless birds, insects, squirrels and our dog Bailey, who loves to eat the cherry tomatoes before we pick them.

Sometimes we feed ourselves.

Growing food never ceases to be a delight.

This spring my husband planted potatoes after several potatoes in the bin had grown eyes and roots. He shrugged and said, "Why not?" and built potato mounds in the bed next to the eggplant.

This week I harvested potatoes, twice, and wrote a poem about each journey into the earth. I noticed the line "some harvests are like that" became a chorus that reappeared in the second poem.

To all your harvests, and your birthings.

June Harvest

Some gold you dig for with hands under

the earth, the rich, warm soil heating your

palms as you follow the spread and dangle

of the roots. You comb and dig and find

underneath the small golden potatoes.

This is the first time they've seen the light –

but in your eagerness you yank them out

of their brown sleep and into the fierce

hot sun, stunned by their welcome.

Peasant food, potatoes. And yet you

could live on potatoes if you had to –

they provide every rich thing the body

needs to grow.

Some harvests are like the humble

potato. You dig through the layered

mulch and compost, the eggshells

you laid last fall and the ashes from the

too few winter fires. Then the shining

coins of harvest appear, small and round

and firm in your hands. You rejoice

in hallelujah.


Last night you watched the farmer, his arm

inside the cow, up to his strong elbow, ease

the calf into the soft, warm hay. You saw

the relief in the farmer's eyes when the calf

blinked once, then twice.

You thought your harvest was complete.

But today your own arm was elbow deep

in the warm brown earth, sifting the humus

until you found the potatoes you'd missed,

tucked tight to their roots.

Some harvests are like the humble

potato: you believe the birthing is

done until another contraction opens

you. You were never told but every

year you learn:

You will be born over and over. You will

sow and reap, reap and sow. You will till

the field and put more into the ground

then you ever harvest. But each offering

of plant and vegetable will feel sweet

and solid in your hands.

Who knows what awaits in the dark.

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