The Poetics of Compost
This pile (shown as we initially heaped it last winter) yielded the most luscious compost I've ever made. The result is fluffy, black, like crumbling chocolate cake. It looks and smells so deliciously, richly earthy that I almost could have eaten the compost itself.
The main ingredients were seagrass that washed up on a local beach, pony poo collected from a friend's paddock, and leaves/forest duff that washed up on another beach after a big storm. The sea, forest and animal realms joining together and transforming into a supreme source of food.
Compost is the most magic alchemy I know: huge piles of the stuff no one wants, transmuting into divine elixir that nourishes life. It feels like a hopeful metaphor for all the shit that happens to us, and ecological renewal, and social change. Sometimes, destruction gives birth to new life. Sometimes, massive change comes about through many humble, tiny beings (microbes... or humans) working in sync.
(Fellow garden nerds: here's an interview I did with Kay Baxter of the Koanga Institute, which includes her interesting tips for making nutrient-dense compost.)
I did not expect the following to become one of my most-requested poems. It was just supposed to be for a dear friend & gardening teacher while we were each going through our own rough times of inner composting. But apparently some other people besides me really, really love compost. I often hesitate to share my poems written down because they were made for speaking and breathing, so maybe you can read it aloud. To your compost pile. (This poem is also on my album Poetree, recorded with suitably earthy music.)
9/30/2015 03:13:10 pm
These words have nourished my being, this creation has encouraged me to surrender to change and enjoy it, thanks a compost heap :-)
3/21/2020 03:18:13 am
Reading this on 20 March 2020 as the world is in the grip of a pandemic that will only get worse. Thank you for this poem. It is beautiful and what I need right now.
6/1/2020 02:22:54 am
love your poetry, its a joy to hear a free human being of integrity and authenticity.
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