In haste one evening while making dinner
I threw away a potato that was spoiled
on one end. The rest would have been
redeemable. In the yellow garbage pail
it became the consort of coffee grounds,
banana skins, carrot peelings.
I pitched it onto the compost
where steaming scraps and leaves
return, like bodies over time, to earth.
When I flipped the fetid layers with a hay
fork to air the pile, the potato turned up
unfailingly, as if to revile me—
looking plumper, firmer, resurrected
instead of disassembling. It seemed to grow
until I might have made shepherd’s pie
for a whole hamlet, people who pass the day
dropping trees, pumping gas, pinning
hand-me-down clothes on the line.
From Collected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2007). Copyright © 2007 by Jane Kenyon. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.