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March 2015

Ode to a Garden Fork: an illustrated poem


Ode to a Garden Fork

Poem and Illustrations by Jocelyn Curry


I first saw you

on a day dim with January light

while the baby napped

and joy was but a memory

pasted and closed within

a shelved album. 

Outdoors the earth was frozen,

closed for the winter,

the sign saying 

Stay Away.

I obeyed, reached instead

for the Smith & Hawken

catalogue, the warm wishing well

for gardeners banished by the cold.

You were on page 23:

Bulldog Garden Fork,

Drop-forged steel,

Filled-Y ash handle

Handmade in England

Lifetime guarantee.



Your tines

were four-sided spears                                                   

tapered and ready to

pierce and lift at my command,

eager to find stones

left carelessly behind

by the glacier 

that was once my neighborhood.

The smooth, golden wood

of your eager up-stretched handle

was your invitation to toil

hand in hand with me.

Your gleaming image

became nectar and manna in one -

without you I would be as weak as a brittle stalk,

unable to till a single furrow.

I filled out the order form,

wrote the check and sent it off.



Time passed as slowly

as lichen grows upon a stone.

At last, in late February

you arrived on my porch

a boxed Bulldog,

my winter savior,

my English Adonis!

I slit the tape,

opened the box,

and lifted you in wonder.

Your handle was not wood,

but molded amber.

Your tines were not metal,

but forged light.

I rushed you to the garden,

where the frost had heaved and crusted

the soil of our Eden.

I pressed my foot onto your steel shoulder,

plunging you into the earth for the first time.

We married at that moment, 

bound by fertile purpose.



Many winters have passed since then.

The baby is now 24. 

Your shaft and handle 

are the color of spores,

the wood grain raised and rough. 

The edges of your tines have softened,

worn by basalt stones and cedar roots.


Once, on a wet day in April

when the daffodils strained 

against the rain,

I thought someone had taken you

from our garden.

I searched for you as I would 

for a vanished lover.

But you were there,

leaning against the fir tree,

camouflaged against its craggy bark,

your body resting, but

your purpose unchanged.

Relieved, I grasped you

with my gloved hand

and together we worked the soil.

Garden gloves

Poem written in 2005 as an assignment for a college class in poetry.

Artwork done in 2007

All content: copyright Jocelyn Curry 2015. For permission to use content

please contact me via email.




Post script: the baby is now 34. The fork is still in daily use: