What’s not to love? this perfect day
to dig bull thistle — ragged and meddlesome
along the paddock fence. Though
the garden fork’s tang is so loose in the shaft
you have to work the fork head out of the soil
by hand, the soil itself is moist, the sky
mottled, the wind eager against two layers
of shirt. You welcome the good company of cats
held to their bellies by chittering
barn swallows. The fork coaxes the soil
loose around the roots, and you massage
the thistle’s formidable spines
down against your gloved palm
before you true your feet and shoulders,
pelvis and quads
____________to pull.
__________________So what’s not
to love? For muscle, it’s work; for roots
the earth. Swallows love sky, and sky,
wind. Cats love a bit of ruckus —
which they can then ignore. Even the tang
— dare I say it? — loves the shaft, evidence
_____By lunchtime a ragged meddle of bull thistle
fills the wheelbarrow twice over. For love of seed,
the goldfinch takes his perfect flight
elsewhere, to hedges and woods edge
where blooming thistle still stands.
____________________And you — you
tip the wheelbarrow’s load onto the fire pit
then work some ease back into your shoulders
with a roll, welcoming into your lungs
the tang of wind and sky.
Somewhere in the pasture, the dog
noses into the nests of red-winged blackbirds
to inhale their musk.

Photo by the US Department of Agriculture, used and adapted under CC