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'Tis the season for gorgeous summer produce and I'm envious of those of you with your own vegetable gardens. At our old house, where there were fewer trees to block the sunlight and no deer to nibble on devour everything, we had a nice little patch that yielded bell peppers, beefsteak, cherry and Early Girl tomatoes, cucumbers, and monster zucchini.

Tommy Williams/flickr

I love how each plant matured in its own time, extending our anticipation, and how it always seemed so miraculous that something delicious and satisfying could magically materialize from a tiny seed or starter plant.

Jean-François Chénier/flickr

No, there's nothing like a freshly picked garden tomato at its peak of ripeness sliced just so, saying hello to three strips of bacon, a little butter lettuce and lightly toasted whole grain bread. And there's no one who better celebrates the joy and wonder of the vegetable garden than Barbara Crooker. Her poetic garden flourishes with a variety of offerings, exquisite sensual details, and earthy enthusiasm. She always gets it just right.


by Barbara Crooker

Feel a tomato, heft its weight in your palm,
think of buttocks, breasts, this plump pulp.
And carrots, mud clinging to the root,
gold mined from the earth's tight purse.
And asparagus, that push their heads up,
rise to meet the returning sun,
and zucchini, green torpedoes
lurking in the Sargasso depths
of their raspy stalks and scratchy leaves.
And peppers, thick walls of cool jade, a green hush.
Secret caves. Sanctuary.
And beets, the dark blood of the earth.
And all the lettuces: bibb, flame, oak leaf, butter-
crunch, black-seeded Simpson, chicory, cos.
Elizabethan ruffs, crisp verbiage.
And spinach, the dark green
of northern forests, savoyed, ruffled,
hidden folds and clefts.
And basil, sweet basil, nuzzled
by fumbling bees drunk on the sun.
And cucumbers, crisp, cool white ice
in the heart of August, month of fire.
And peas in their delicate slippers,
little green boats, a string of beads,
repeating, repeating.
And sunflowers, nodding at night,
then rising to shout hallelujah! at noon.

All over the garden, the whisper of leaves
passing secrets and gossip, making assignations.
All of the vegetables bask in the sun,
languorous as lizards.
Quick, before the frost puts out
its green light, praise these vegetables,
earth's voluptuaries,
praise what comes from the dirt.

~ from Radiance, winner of the Word Press First Book Prize, Copyright © 2005 Barbara Crooker. All rights reserved.


♥ Today's Roundup is at Carol's Corner. Check out the full menu of tasty poems and have a good weekend!

♥ More Barbara Crooker poems at alphabet soup here.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan's alphabet soup. All rights reserved.


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 24th, 2011 10:49 am (UTC)
With Their Delicate Green Slippers...
Love those peas in their little green boats, and the lovely line "...sweet basil, nuzzled
by fumbling bees drunk on the sun.!" That's gorgeous. Thanks for posting this, Jama!
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
Re: With Their Delicate Green Slippers...
Yes, there are so many lovely lines in this one. I feel like basking in the sun, too . . .
Jun. 24th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
Earth's voluptuaries...beautiful. I'm porch-sitting in PA at the moment, Jama, overlooking a friend's budding vegetable garden and listening to the leaves pass gossip. Thanks for sharing Barbara's poem.
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
Lucky you -- what are they gossiping about? :)
Jun. 24th, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)
What a sumptuous poem! Thanks for sharing, Jama. I love "cucumbers, crisp, cool white ice" in the middle of all that rich language. I have a row of veggie plants trying to make their way in the world - planted from seed this year. So far, so good, but there's a plump resident bunny eyeing them, too....
happy summering - and simmering!
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
You have a bunny? Lucky! We don't see them around here because of the foxes, whom we love but . . . *twitches nose*
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
I just have to say, which probably adds nothing to the conversation here, that you have this amazing ability to find the best poems about food. You're like a ninja. It's one of the world's greatest wonders.

Jun. 24th, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
Hee! I think I've trained myself to sniff them out :) -- also have been very lucky and honored that several poets have given me permission to share their work here. Thanks for the kind words!
Jun. 24th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC)
Beautiful descriptions, all around!

"And sunflowers, nodding at night,
then rising to shout hallelujah! at noon." Wow!

Went blueberry picking with my kids this morning, and picked up a bunch of other already-picked fruits and vegetables at the farm as well. Very satisfying feeling to be stocked up!

Jun. 24th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
Yum, blueberries! It's always a treat to shop at farm markets and country stores. :)
Jun. 24th, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
Yummy (well, except for those tomatoes - ha!)

Love the image of lettuce with an Elizabethan ruff.
Jun. 24th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
The Elizabethan ruff stood out for me too.

Hope you come to embrace tomatoes sometime :). . .
Jun. 24th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
Later today I will "praise what comes from the dirt" by making the first pesto of the summer! Tomorrow, when we go to the farmers' market, I'll have Barbara Crooker's descriptions rolling around in my head!
Jun. 24th, 2011 09:34 pm (UTC)
Re: YUM!
Yay for Pesto! Have fun at the farmer's market, but watch out for those green torpedos :).
Jun. 25th, 2011 02:02 am (UTC)
Oh, I love the "secret caves" and "sanctuary" of gardens. Love these pics too. Thanks Jama. xo
Jun. 25th, 2011 11:41 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed the poem, Irene. Barbara has definitely enhanced my appreciation for gardens!
Jun. 25th, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
Oh, I love the Elizabethan ruffs, the crisp verbiage, and the sunflowers shouting hallelujah! Plus I had to laugh about the deer--I'm about to move to a place where the deer are famous for eating everybody's gardens and landscaping. I'm supposed to get a list of the things they DON'T like from the nursery, so we'll see how it goes. :)
Jun. 25th, 2011 11:43 am (UTC)
Good luck with the deer resistant plants! We listened to the nursery's advice, but found that during winter when the deer are really hungry, they'll eat anything. They kind of view our yard as a salad bar, and nibble from one bush to the next. :) Good luck with your move!
Jun. 25th, 2011 06:22 am (UTC)

This poem brings back memories of picking vegetables in my grandfather's garden. My mother's father lived for his garden and growing things. Every time I'd visit at my granparents' house in summertime, Dzidzi would always have me pick vegetables--carrots, beets, scallions, peppers, tomatoes--to take home. It's one of my fondest childhood memories.

Elaine M.
Jun. 25th, 2011 11:44 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing, Elaine. I love imagining you as a little girl visiting your grandparents and picking all those veggies.
Jun. 9th, 2012 01:13 am (UTC)
Thanks for these luscious images, both words and pictures. They make me happy to be alive.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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