Advent 14: Last Things

You shall turn again to earth.
(Christina Rossetti, “For Advent”)

Before leaving for our new home, we take
the last year’s compost and distribute
rich, fermenting soil across our garden bed,
while lawn – parched from summer – longs weakly for green.
I too am parched and though
made of mud I cannot rest in dirt
until the heat is passed.
And so I long
for earth to reform, reconstitute
my barren bones and take dead seed
to make things new again.
Moving always, I crave endless home,
crave dwelling beneath Your rain.


This afternoon, though I’d planned
a much-needed rest, many tasks overtook and
somewhere amidst assembling IKEA furniture I found
the afternoon gone and dusk charcoaling the sky,
so instead I walked
my toddler to the compost heap and there
we shredded paper scraps to balance the mix
and pulled weeds from the side garden while
my son trialled his latest words and declared “I want!”
as the evening air bristled and my fingers let go.


If it had roots, the pulling-out would be easy,
but, being rhizome, it tangles its way far, far out,
as though sending emissaries, ambassadors;
but which way do they travel?
Do they depart or return?
The beginning hides sneekily under soil,
like a power-line, a waterpipe,
some subterranean transport network,
while the visible growth bursts
somewhere else,
a periscope greeting, a hand waving to the day.
Like me, it craves light and craves soil.
Hence this tangled network, this clump
of green and brown, like a jungle, like a weed.
If it had roots, the pulling-out would be easy.
Not so the rhizome; it is too much like me.