or a way of life?
My grandmother had a rose garden tucked away on the side of the house—prim tea roses edged by a small hedge of columbine. I always knew that I, too, would have a rose garden—in her memory and also because it's what women do (as when my daughter informed me that all girls should know how to play the piano).
Size is not the defining factor. The rose garden can contain one shrub to (name your number). At my previous house, I dug the yard up and planted, many, many roses: Linda Campbell, Thomas Lipton, Gruss an Aachen, Reine des Violettes, Peace—at one time I could have told you all of their names, but there were many others.
We moved here to a yard that was half deck and half grass, with large laurel hedges on either side. Nothing else. Again, I dug the yard up and planted roses: Butterfly, Paul's Himalayan Musk, Rosa Rubrifola, Cecile de Brunner, and the Gruss an Aachen that I brought with me.
My grandmother's garden was the picture of pretty—and orderly. Mine has become a bramble, a ramble of roses each competing for more space more room, more bloom. Roses crowd out the wisteria, the honeysuckle, the hibiscus (rose of Sharon). The Californica Plena sucker that started as a stick would take the entire yard. The Agnes rose (Agnes was my grandmother's name) is surrounded by the Butterfly that spreads its canes with abandon.
Abandon. Perhaps that is the key. Only constant attention can keep this garden from growing its own way, and I tend to let it grow until it's entirely out of control. Princes would sooner ride away than hack through its thorns and canes.
This morning, I started the chore of cutting back. I thought about what Nance Van Winkle said at the poetry class I took last week: "Ruthlessness." And it's easier to for me to be ruthless in the garden than in my poems.
Then again, the roses are starting to bloom. And I don't want to cut too much until after the show.
What does this have to do, really, with poetry and writing?
Perhaps I need as much abandon in my writing as in my back yard. (If I start with more, it might be easier to figure out what to cut away.)
How do you let go—and go?