Somehow, potatoes. Everything else in this square plot unfurls tentacles of vine and stem in full view: sudden weighted droplets of tomatoes, green-tied to stake; peppers that plainly overweight the stem; long draperies of squash blossoms melting yellow to ground. You can’t miss it. Unless you do.
But potatoes? A subterranean impossibility it seemed to me. Though I followed the internet’s instruction: diced eyes dropped into dug trough and covered all. But is that all? This, my first garden, so whole firsts with pleasure entire and thick surprise each week but none to equal the delight of found potatoes at summer’s end hiding beneath mounded shelter, dirt-piled in disbelief.
Under July’s blanket of heat, I had spaded in to nothing then clawed soil under nail, scraping for Solanum spuds. I was hungry for confirmation. When nothing again poured through the fingers of space except soil and worm, all the mounding and the watering that came after were acts of faith, or something approaching oh-well-what-the-hell resignation. Fruitless, seedless, I assumed.
But before the sudden dieback; before those thick, stalky greens lost fibrous power in the night’s shade of August; before the sunk heart and the despairing shovel thrust; before the leveraged pry of the spade spilt dirt- falls like a bucket excavator and big clods of blanched spuds thudded and rolled out in the sifted light of the sun; before that catch in your breath, a cough of delight, at such unexpected bounty, watch: the midsummer monarchs alight for a minute on the pencil weight of the potato flowers. Potato flowers, you say? Somehow, yes.
Geoff Martin currently lives and writes in Western Massachusetts. His prose has appeared most recently in Ruminate and Psaltery & Lyre with new work forthcoming in The Drum, The Citron Review, and The Common. Find him at www.geoff-martin.com and on Twitter @gmartin9.