restricted access Collards
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Illustration by Phil Blank.

Some people plant their collards in rowsfor a neat, predictable arrangement.Others, however—and this is reallythe old-fashioned method—planttheir collards in a jumble. They loosen [End Page 158] a little patch of ground and slingthe seed in a blur all over creation.All over creation—allowing the mindto contemplate a vastness is pleasing.And who would argue with creation?The result of the old-fashioned wayputs one in mind of a green seawith a bluish haze above it likea cloud. It looks like everythingthat is is there, a waist-highand leafy green eternity.I like to lose my sense of orderin the green world. That's what I call it.The green world, it's beautiful.The distinction between the rows and jumbleis probably a metaphor.A metaphor for what is the question,but I'm going to sit on it a while,give it a little time and seeif something illuminating comesto mind. Or not. It's strangely refreshingwhen nothing illuminating happens.You stand there in the green worldand it is what it is, nothing beyonditself, silently existing.Poetry is always surprising.Naively I've approached it, thinkingsome lofty thought to say, onlyto discover silence says it all.I've written of collard greens beforein a rather humorous little poem.It's a pretty inexhaustible subject,no wonder I've returned to itagain, and find that having lessand less to say is where the realpoem on the matter is,in the bluish haze above the green.Nothing more to say than that,but in it is a kind of love,and poetry relies on love. [End Page 159]

Maurice Manning

Maurice Manning's most recent collection of poetry is One Man's Dark. He lives with his family in Kentucky and teaches at Transylvania University and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

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