Late in August, after the poppy petals have faded and dropped,
and the stalks have dried, I cut them, timed just before their
tiny round ground-pepper seeds spill upon the fertile earth.
I am the poppies’ servant, gently upturning their slender stems
and rattling pods into small brown paper bags, biding quietly
through all the dark winter for the gradual break of brittle husks,
the hushed eased release of ten thousand miracles, handfuls
of treasure to scatter on pale February’s diminishing mounds
of dispirited snow. The seeds stay or drift, eventually coming
to rooted rest, and it’s not I, the earnest gardener, who will say
which will bloom or where; this is the secret magic of poppies.
I tend and plant my gardens just so: tall in the back and
short in the front, all seasons’ colors carefully arranged,
organized surprises, designed to delight in texture, color,
and patterns that gracefully rise and fall, suggesting elegant,
unplanned perfection. But I am only the poppies’ apprentice,
humbly and forever learning from their wisdom, the one who
witnesses and yearns to master the wiser magic of scattered
poppy seeds, erupting in random joy, fully themselves, birthing
incomparable rainbows among my detailed and reasoned rows.