For this issue of work from and around gardens, in this time of staying in place, we asked our contributors a bouquet of questions to answer in one sentence: What do you tend? What seeds are you sowing? What would you add to a garden of sentences? What are you growing toward? What garden would you live in for the rest of your life? Their answers are an invitation into every kind of season.
We think you’ll find their sentences, compiled below and on our Instagram page, good company in whatever place you find yourself. We invite you to read them here and to contemplate answers and gardens of your own.
I’m sowing seeds for the life I want, giving so I can live bountifully, writing to leave a legacy; I’m taking leaps of faith because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering what might have happened if I’d chased my dreams, flying without a visible net, stepping out on a tightrope pulled taut by grace—and though I’ve never felt more unsure of anything, I’ve never felt more alive.
—Destiny O. Birdsong
Having the vexed privilege of working from home, I can only move through the rooms of my mind, opening the windows that aren’t frozen shut to let in some air; even before the pandemic, due to immigration status, I couldn’t leave this country, and now my hunger for the world and for life otherwise is ever keener, but I try to remember that even the hardest seasons are still time spent with the world.
To a garden of sentences, I want to add: color and texture, winter interest, sustenance for many, and perfumes of delight.
—Camille T. Dungy
For now, I am tending to families who have lost their loved ones, whose eyes are filled with heartbreak, who are saying “one more day, one more day”; for now, I am tending to their pain; for now, I am crying with them and asking for strength.
When the world is blanketed in snow, when branches climb like naked arms to shield the windows from light, when leaves change color like your moods, when flowers now blossom now fall, scattering in the icy wind seeds pregnant with yearning, when you are cocooned in the silence of ghosts, then dream of warm rain-drenched nights and the scent of lychees growing wild where the roots are buried deep in the earth like lines on a map.
Right now I’m tending my attention, my ability to notice more precisely at a moment when we’re required to stand still––to look out my window at the same view each evening and to see how the light is a little bit different each time.
What garden would I live in for the rest of my life? Oh, that’s easy: the stanzas of poems.
In my dreams I grow my mother’s garden: gooseberries, spinach, blackcurrants, carrots, the earthen goodness of potatoes, celeriac, parsnip; and at the kitchen window my father with his shotgun, aiming at the rabbit that munches it all, detonations of crimson as my mother’s rhubarb explodes to our childish cries, wondering if the rabbits made it, knowing the rhubarb did not.
With the relationship among goldenrod, galls, wasps, mites, ants, and endosymbiotic fungal networks in mind, not to mention the scientists concluding symbiosis is the default mechanism of the biosphere, I am trying to write and live as if I could fully understand how intertwined I am in the lives of other beings, the bacteria and fungi and food and pollinators and friends and loves and souls whose hearts beat in mine.
In my garden I plant milkweed, parsley, fennel, and dill to honor the caterpillars and butterflies, who understand the true art of resurrection.