Our Hard-Scrabble Life on The Land

Andrew Bode-Lang

With the big oak out of the way - sawdust and 

firewood - my father tore up the myrtle

and started the garden he’d been wanting

for years. He and my sister


planted seeds and seedlings in tiers

while I photographed the event-

the tops of their heads

and their shovels as they turned the earth.


After the first week, the office picked up

and my father was never home before seven.

My sister didn’t care much


about vegetables - not really. I

only looked out at the garden from the porch

and sometimes gave it the hose.


My mother developed a speech about

my father’s frivolity. But by October


my father harvested one summer squash

as big as his leg. Nurtured by neglect,

it had surpassed everyone’s expectations.


We dissected the squash in the yard,

the allure of horticulture ever more clear

as my father hacked at its skin with a saw.