search instagram arrow-down


best of HDtS editor's notes fiction interviews nonfiction poetry reviews

Archives by date

Archives by theme

Fleece-swaddled against November
I head to the garden to dig carrots
already kissed by frost—
that alchemy that turns starch to sweet.
Nascent sprouts of next summer’s garlic
flank their rabbit-pruned tops.
A sunflower’s spectral stalk
marks the head of the row.

My gloved hands clutch the wooden handle,
sanded smooth by my father’s calloused ones
that for more than six decades
planted rosebushes, buried beloved cats
and turned kitchen compost
in a suburban community that shunned
compost piles or “humus heaps”
as my gardener mother called them.

Steel parts darkened to bronzed patina,
straight blade that never needed honing
rising to the shaft, tang secured by rivets
in cracked but silken wood.
Steel epaulets flank the handle. On blade’s
top edge an incised R, the initial
of its maker? Branded on socket front
someone’s pride: Patent No. 2031556

Gently I break frosty crust with the blade.
Gently I lift a carrot from its bed
brushing off nourishing soil
to admire its orange wonder.


A former journalist, Marianne Gambaro’s poems have been published in several print and on-line journals including Mudfish, The Aurorean, Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poems, Naugatuck River Review, Oberon Poetry, The Copperfield Review, Parody,and Pirene’s Fountain. She is the author of Do NOT Stop for Hitchhikers (Finishing Line Press). A member of the Florence (MA) Poets Society, she serves on the editorial team for Silkworm, their annual journal. She resides in verdant Western Massachusetts with her talented photographer husband and two feline critics. 

© 2020, Marianne Gambaro

One comment on “My Father’s Spade, by Marianne Gambaro

  1. MarGam says:

    Thank you! I LOVE the illustration!

    On Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 5:30 AM Halfway Down the Stairs wrote:

    > Halfway Down the Stairs posted: ” Fleece-swaddled against NovemberI head > to the garden to dig carrotsalready kissed by frost—that alchemy that turns > starch to sweet.Nascent sprouts of next summer’s garlicflank their > rabbit-pruned tops.A sunflower’s spectral stalkmarks the head of the row” >


Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: