This month’s flower girl stops traffic

in the garden center parking lot

in tight Carhartts and Felco holster,

wiping a smear of soil from her cheek

with clay-encrusted fingers. Where’s she been

all winter? On some exotic playa

down under, collecting seaglass? Or here

all along, holed up in a rental off Oak Lane

with only a wood stove and cable, plotting

meticulous scenarios of perennial displays.

She’s been cleaning out beds since March first,

shoveling snow off crocuses, ripping

root balls apart, pruning the Buddleia back

to nothing. Gets by on a diet of Advil,

Doxycycline and caffeine. Spouts Latin

like a native; fluent in Hemerocallis and Hosta,

her heart belongs to Dahlias:

her dreams tossed by Loverboy, Marry Me,

Hot Tamale, and everybody’s favorite

eleven inch red orange, Bodacious.

She’ll be hard to pin down for the duration,

always rushing off to some job

cradling a cup of tea and a hose kit,

trailing a cloud of deer repellent and cocoa

mulch, but eventually things’ll settle down

to just dead-heading and watering

and those ugly tubers from the basement

will turn incandescent by mid-July. Maybe

then she’ll have time to lean against the warm body

of a truck and waste an hour in the sun.

Donald Nitchie lives in Chilmark. His poetry chapbook Driving Lessons was published in 2007.