Iowa Writes

Watching Our Garden Burn

Once the sugar maple leaves fell into
their brilliant reds and yellows, my sister and I knew
what to do. Set up the high jump stands,
rest the bamboo pole on the lowest nail heads
and start scissoring higher into the piled leaves
on the other side. Dad said this was good
for fertility, this breaking leafy matter
into mulch as we kicked the bar and dropped, turn
after turn, on our behinds. He awarded my sister
the silver rake and golden match
for her taller pile spiring like a cone.
When she torched it, the fire crackled and spit
like Vesuvius, its embers the Devil's eyes peering
into my east window. Weeks later, even the snow burned,
its crystal-sharp knives stippled
with little red suns, singeing my eyes. In the spring,
the roto-tiller man, grinding the earth into pumice, raised
purple smoke plumes like some new species of snakes
called up from volcanic, foreign soil,
and mom pointed to get down and get the seeds in.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Dick Stahl graduated from Davenport High School in 1957, from Augustana College (B.A.) in 1963, from the University of Iowa (M.A.) in 1970, and from Western Illinois University (Ed.S) in 1981. His three books of poetry are "After the Milk Route"(1988), "Under the Green Tree Hotel" (1996) and "Mr. Farnam's Guests" (2004). After 34 and one half years, he retired from teaching English at Central High School, his alma mater, in 2001. He served as the Quad City Arts' first Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003.

This page was first displayed
on March 18, 2011

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