Raising beds

Enough work and even hardpan clay Will come round -- one stratum after another Forked out, a job for archaeologists. The slow digging through year after year confirms The absent crops, the poor seasons; though It makes sense only as preparation, This turning and shaking of hard ground; Returning the subsoil, the thin microbial topsoil To original place, looser, aerated, manured, Heaped in wide beds no weight but rain Will fall on again. Then what has been made possible Does its irresistible restorative work. Roots stronger than pitchfork tines endlessly Divide the clay crumbs, pump water And minerals into a canopy that catches the sun, Breaks the rivulets of rain, sends the wind Away weightless. Earthworms cast up loam In the cool dark. Out of these new proportions Of air, earth, water, fire come the slow Renewal of soil; beans, snow peas, broccoli; The gardener's fierce elemental joy.

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