Francis Webb often seemed to hide his meaning deep within his poems. Many times I have been surprised to discover the theme of one of his mysterious writings. It intrigues me to try and imagine why he did this: was he trying to be difficult? Did he simply enjoy this style? Was it the only way he could express such deep emotions and ideas? Was he merely acting as a conduit for an intuition he had to appease? I do not yet have the answer and there may well not be one.
A long time ago I had a go at writing in this style, but it was not by accident or an attempt to be clever. In 2008 I suffered a crippling bout of severe depression that floored me for many months. I was laying on the warm concrete one day in a desperate hope that the sun might inject some life into my defeated soul. With my eyes closed I had a vision of the flourishing tomato plants that used to reside in our now fruitless and weed stricken garden. At that moment I decided I would get up and start preparing it for some fresh plant life. This was a basic attempt to give myself something productive to do and maybe keep my mind active for a while to keep the demons at bay.
For some reason, and possibly by coincidence, this moment sticks in my mind as the moment the trajectory of that depressive episode turned for the better. Of course this is not the be all and end of my treatment; I was seeing a therapist and regularly attending 12 step meetings, and this was the true crux of my recovery. However I will never forget how my improvement moved along with the cultivation of the garden. By the time the garden was lush with delicious ripe tomatoes I was back at work, feeling much better about life and myself; and making plans to begin the journey that eventually lead me to university.
I am not so impressed with the poem as a work of art, but I love what it represents!
Desolate, barren, soil.
Scrawny, debris of lifeless plants.
Once so rich and vibrant.
An abundant harvest.
Now withered and decayed.
We must remove the old expired vegetation.
We must eliminate the old,
To make room for the new.
Extract the weeds.
The devious parasite,
Yearning to take over.
A clean slate.
We turn the soil.
We add nutrients.
Create a place that will sustain life.
A place that will nurture life,
Plant the seedlings.
They are tiny and fragile.
They will need our care and attention.
But they will need to find their own potency.
In the end, we can but watch.
It is up to nature.
We wait and see.