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