I watch you train an olive up the fence.
After your op you weren’t supposed
to pull at weeds or wield a fork —
that’s my job now, exclusively. I dig
a spit. My spade hits root and jars
my arm and shoulder like a jabbed right hook.
I groan a little, once more slice the spade,
slantwise this time. It bounces off the root,
grazes my shin and bruises bone. I curse.
And you, across the pathway, by the fence,
where you are working with peg and twine,
look up from your kneeling mat and ask
concernedly, ‘Are you ok?’ You wince —
your old demonic pain still sharp
after so many months. I say,
‘I’m fine. D’you know, Marlene, I struck
a root thick as my arm?’ I lever in
the spade to prise it out and show you,
but it remains stuck in the earth.
Silent again, sullen as Caliban,
I clamp boot onto metal and resume
digging for clues, airing dark secrets,
preparing the bed, charming my wound away,
while you protect your own across the pathway.