Poetry Thursday: Ben Franklin was a gardener

man mulling over a mindmap

You can change your hair
you can change your clothes

You can even change
a lightbulb
with or without the help
of one voyeur
two economists
or three Episcopalians

But you cannot make change
any more than you can
will the sun
into rising
or yell a rose
into blooming

Change happens
when it happens
and not a second sooner

(and I did say “but”)

You can
turn the right rows
and seed the right beds
and water
and weed
and otherwise tend
as needed
every day of every season
every month of every year
for the rest of your life

And if you start now,
if you change right now,
you may not have flowers
or novels
or bridges
or babies
but you will have the joy
that being a handmaiden
brings with it
for every second
of every minute
of every hour
of the rest of your days

And the world might well
enjoy the fruits of your garden
until the end of days


Image by dumbledad via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Y’know, I don’t normally go big on these poems, but this one struck me, because I am a gardener and my own agent of change. Thanks.

  2. Thank you, today’s poem was inspiring (truly). Plus, as a gardener like Jeremy, I am dazzled when last year’s (and the previous year’s) efforts explode into a lush oasis.

    My favourite line was “you will have the joy that being a handmaiden
    brings with it”. Kinda choked me up.

  3. I loved this so very much…
    I just printed it out and am going to show it to my closest friends who are gathering today for my birthday. Thanks for sharing!

  4. So, let’s enjoy the piece of what we are converting right now, whether it is through the smell, or a delicious flavor, or the colors our eyes are seeing, or the faces we look at with a thousand meanings. Five senses in charge. Baby steps, I guess.
    Thanks again. You know, English is my second language, and for the last few weeks Poetry Thursday has become an extended English class for me.
    Many thanks!!!

  5. Jeremy – Everyone has their thing. But yeah, I’m glad that every once in a while, I can win them over to another thing. However briefly. (What’s that famous line? “All is vanity?”)

    Larry – I’m working a BIG Ben Franklin crush these days. Whadda guy.

    Anne – And I’m not! But there’s something about it that’s starting to become compelling. We’ll see. I don’t even HAVE a thumb, when it comes to gardening, but you never know where life will lead you next.

    Karen – Thank you! And happy birthday! And “Hey!” to the friends.

    Elizabeth – Y’know, I’ve come to enjoy them myself. Mostly.

    Juan Carlos – Oh, my! Now I will get all self-conscious about the liberties I’m taking with English grammar! (Still, I am delighted and quite flattered. Ugh. There we go with the vanity thing again!)

  6. There is one rule I am, for sure, following it, and YOU are helping/teaching us to do it, and it is to follow our hearts. Keep your liberties with the English grammar as they are: your liberties.

    Muchas gracias!!!!

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