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Things Fall Apart

by Miriam Axel-Lute on November 22, 2011


To the news hound

it may seem that the hardest harvest is consequence:

the richly deserved chicken slaughtered on her roost,

the open-pollinated burrs of hypocrisy and insincerity,

the mortar-eating ivy that can’t tear down

the master’s house fast enough.

But it isn’t.

Those harvests deliver themselves, eventually.


Harder is to gather the bounty you don’t deserve—

The last cherry tomatoes, sweet and smiling

improbably suspended over ground already planted

with a season of neighbors whose moment you missed.

The greens that just kept going when you couldn’t, when

distraction, depression, priorities kept you away

until visions of foot-high pigweed and the yellow blood of bean beetles

weighed down the pockets of your dreams.

The love that comes, or returns, when you are at your most unloveable.

The kindness that takes the kindling you split in a regretted fury

and stacks it, then sucks out your splinters.


Take it, this harvest that offers and offers again,

but in the end will quietly walk away.

Do not let it go.

Do not waste harvest time filling your compost

with stinging guilt, pulled without gloves in penance.

Step past it where it grows into autumn

where things are supposed to fall apart

and you are supposed to hold out your arms to catch.

As you sow so you shall reap, perhaps

but harvest is also older than furrowed fields.

Taking the gifts given to you is work enough for this season.

Line your bed with them.

Stuff them into the holes in your shoes.

Paint a stained glass wall of jam jars in your pantry.

Practice thank you without the flush of shame.


If anyone deserves anything it is this:

to be fed

before they decide how to try again.


From One Turning: Poems for the Wheel of the Year.