Dianne Olsen "Dirty" "Abandoned"




The whole of me is happy in the garden.

Soil smell drifts up,

brings something like

oxytocin to my brain cells,

I relax, smile, dig deeper.

I am covered in dirt:

ankles to knees,

even the folds of my socks

have dirt in them.


My butt – wet from sitting

in damp soil – never felt better.


Above my gardening gloves,

my arms up to my elbows and beyond

are dirty,

my skin is decorated with

sand grains,

a few leaf fragments,

an insect leg.


The garden is truly mine

when I’m dirty.

I am one with the soil and its parts.


I am absolutely beautiful.







Neither home nor haunted,

the house is merely history,

shutters blown away by winter winds,

gingerbread fretwork missing.

Oak branches sit in

u-shaped bends in the roof.

Blue wisteria begins its inexorable

annexation of the garage.


A dedicated weeping willow

sweeps the porch daily,

keeping in touch with lovers

who spent evenings on porch swings

making plans:

weddings, babies, grandbabies,

love everlasting.


Hydrangeas still bloom

by the front walk;

extravagant flowers cheer only

the firemen keeping watch

from the firehouse across the street.


The chief knows the house will

come down soon;

he suspects it will happen

when the hydrangeas stop blooming.


Dianne Olsen is a poet, freelance writer, and garden consultant living in Massachusetts. She wrote the weekly “Valley Gardener” column for the Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal for four years in the mid-2000s. Now retired from a career as an environmental educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Putnam County, NY, she volunteers at a teen center, food pantry garden and summer camp. She has an MA in Environmental Studies from SUNY Empire State College. Her freelance work has been published by Taste of Home; poetry published in Colloquial Poetry; Isoacoustics; Mojave River Press and Review; Postcard Poems and Prose; and Writer’s Resist.