The Medical Editor Classifies Her Yard

Roxanne Halpine Ward

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One winter morning seven birds came 

to the feeder and I could only name three: 

cardinal, sparrow, crow. I know two types 


of cherry tree now, and the order they bloom 

in spring: first the okame, then the kwanzan.

The magnolia around the block blooms in between. 


By early summer daffodils and tulips are gone, 

but clematis blossoms in a riot up the lamppost 


and daylilies burst forth, one by one, 

while my roses wilt and we pick the last 

few strawberries. The first tiny tomatoes 


are budding green on the vine, with names 

like cherokee purple and sungold, 

and the zucchini is in its first flower. 


I’ll bake loaf after loaf of bread with it

before summer’s end. I even know the shape 


of a robin’s nest, saw the fledgling’s 

first flight, held the last unhatched blue egg 

in my hand. Owning this house has taught me 


so much about what’s outside it, given color 

and depth to how I understand plant, bird, tree. 

Even ivy, familiar to everyone: 


I didn’t even know what ivy was like 

until I tried to destroy it.


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