Harvesting Garlic and Reverie: Afternoon Nap

Poetry by Kevin Casey

Harvesting Garlic

Only in his garden did our grandfather’s
habit of wrath abate, the heat and bite
that twisted his walk and bent his back
like a spiraling scape dissipate
into the cool soil. Away from the kitchen,
where our grandmother had stood planted


for thirty years, he would show us
how to free the bulbs with a spading fork,
once the breath of August had singed their leaves
to marigold and umber, tell us
that the cloves must stay wrapped fast inside
their paper jackets to preserve their warmth.


Only once a year did that fire subside
enough for us to tolerate his temper,
his troupe of beaming helpers marching
from the lawn’s edge with armfuls of stalks
to be laid in the shadow of the oak tree— 
bundles of matchsticks placed in the shade
to keep them from bursting into flame.


Reverie: Afternoon Nap

Waking from an afternoon nap, a breeze
stirring organdy curtains stained marigold
in the eventide glow, I lay unsure
whether it was dusk or dawn. In that moment
of uncertainty, all the world seemed tied
in the peace of a single circuit
too smooth to bear the burden of my spirit,
and I was a specter outside of time.
Pleased to welcome this new day
or to sail on to whatever night might hold,
the notes of every fanfare and requiem,
the offices of both lauds and vespers,
mingled and poured from the robin
that waded outside in a pool of shadow.