The Good, the Bad and the Inconvenient

Happy birthday to Marge Piercy, the accomplished poet and novelist.

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The good, the bad and the inconvenient

By Marge Piercy

Gardening is often a measured cruelty:

what is to live and what is to be torn

up by its roots and flung on the compost

to rot and give its essence to new soil.

It is not only the weeds I seize.

go down the row of new spinach—

their little bright Vs crowding—

and snatch every other, flinging

their little bodies just as healthy,

just as sound as their neighbors

but judged, by me, superfluous.

We all commit crimes too small

for us to measure, the ant soldiers

we stomp, whose only aim was to

protect, to feed their vast family.

It is I who decide which beetles

are "good" and which are "bad"

as if each is not whole in its kind.

We eat to live and so do they,

the locusts, the grasshoppers,

the flea beetles and aphids and slugs.

By bad I mean inconvenient. Nothing

we do is simple, without consequence

and each act is shadowed with death.

"The good, the bad and the inconvenient" by Marge Piercy, from The Crooked Inheritance. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.