Allotment of Melancholy

ThistleAt the far end of the abandoned allotment,
amidst a nest of thistles and thorny briers,
melons grew, in the shade of a holly tree,
and cauliflower, collared by an old cement
wall, its once smooth patina worn rough,
sand and gravel flaking and falling off,
hairy creepers and mosses bolting on.

Cheated out of sunshine in the afternoon
shadow of the dark green holly, the melon
flowers withered, and fruit refused to set.
Only one in nine survived, a random vine
lucratively climbing up the wall and thru
a fence, squashing into a square section
of wire, hanging tentatively in the sun.

The melon was watered by an old woman
named Irony, who rummaged the once
lusty garden for volunteer fruits, herbs,
and vegetables. She gathered mustard,
chamomile, rosemary, whatever she could
find in the wild thickets. Irony, shaped
like a thorn, rode a bicycle to the garden.

She carried water in a jug in the basket
on the handlebars and put her cuttings
in saddlebags that hung over the back fender.
She noticed a morning glory had sprouted,
threatening the melon. She pulled the invasive
vine away, uncovering on the wall names:
“Adam Hugh Penelope & Lily – 1943.”

The names were scratched into the cement,
crudely, as if with some blunt instrument
improvised for printing, but deep enough
to still see as the wall face peeled away.
To every season there is an allotment
of time, a measure of sour spoils
as soon sprout start to diminish.


  1. bristlehound says:

    ‘A measure of sour spoils’. Irony has taken care of my own garden for years. I have cared little for the trees and fruits, shown little interest in the flowering roses and have been recalcitrant to my citrus. Yet to my great wonder, my garden continues to flourish and my fear grows for the remaining 8 neighbours, of whom must endure the pain of the sour.
    This is a lovely piece Joe and I am so happy to be able to catch up again with your posts.B.


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thx, B. The untended garden plots, the unplanned novel plots, the vacant lots by the side of the road, ramble and roam. One thing I’ve noticed locally, birds and squirrels moving things around, raccoons running amok at dusk, tearing things up. Gardening seems to be a team effort, and best not to be a control freak gardener, but wait and see what happens. Well, that might be an effective approach to poetry, also.


  2. Beautifully evocative. Will return to read the poem again.
    Melancholy was on my mind,


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Ok. Meantime, a cure for melancholy, Van the Man:


      1. Ah, Van Morrison, thanks. I guess melancholia is the compost for our allotments.


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