It's that time of year,
the hedgerows hung with bittersweet.
How early the freeze, I'd say
if we were speaking. We're not.
We turn our spading forks against
the earth. It's stiff,
the Reds and Idahos hard as stone,
a total loss.
Once it was us against the beetles,
blight, whatever was not potato.
How they flowered, rows and rows
in white. Now look.
We give it one last try, and there
far down in softer soil,
a seam of them still perfect.
One after another
we hold them up to the dying day,
kneel down to sift for more.
In the dark of the earth, I come upon
your hand, you mine.
Rennie McQuilkin, "The Digging" from The Weathering (Antrim House, 2009).
Used with the permission of the author.