Chop wood, shovel snow, bake bread,
make dinner, and after take the compost
to the bin, nearly full though only half
decomposed. Citrus is the worst, the rinds
of orange, lemon, grapefruit, and lime,
and also avocado, the skins and pits.
November before last, so long ago now,
I was in the garden, scraping the snow
off the beds, digging the compost
in before the ground froze. There
amid the remains of summer’s mint
and parsley, potatoes and peas,
was a six-inch stalk, a plant I didn’t know.
I lifted it from the cold earth, brushed
the snow away, and saw it was avocado.
Yes, avocado, sprouted from an afternoon
of guacamole and gin and tonics. I dug up
a little more of the soil, put that
and the unlikely shoot into a clay pot,
and took it into the warm house, the wood
I’d chopped burning in the stove. I meant
this poem to be about the things we can do
trapped now in ourselves, wrapped up
against a virus: writing letters and reading
novels, inventing dinners from frozen foods
and legumes soaked overnight, bundling up
in layers to lie on the ground and watch
the stars. Things like that. But it turns out
this poem’s about compost, that is to say
about transformation, how we change
moving through the days, and the days,
how they change moving through us.