Myland Farms


Even though the frost has barely thawed,

everything must go: the cracked ceramic

flowerpots, wrought iron candelabra, boxes

and boxes of votives; all the garden tools

my grandfather acquired over decades

owning the flower nursery, the rust

of each spade crumbling into gravelly ground;

each of the mossy fountains and vacant birdbaths

and once-upright statues of St. Francis sorted by their worth.

Forget the fresh-cut hydrangea, sunflowers,

delphinium, and roses—they won’t last.


Orchids and palms, though, might make it through

summer, so I rummage through his greenhouse

that collapsed under the weight of a snowstorm,

its colossal exhaust fan weathered, motionless,

its galvanized steel bows and purlins kinked

and severed, some edges tearing the plastic film.

From here, I watch my grandfather disassemble

his workbench, empty shelves from the bottom up

past the brims of storage bins, reaching the top shelf

for a black and white photograph of himself,

only younger, working a wheelbarrow through

flecks of daylight, a slight breeze waving

his hair as if to ask what’re you looking for?


I wonder what he notices in the picture:

forearms flexed, tanned skin tight across his face;

dank soil inside the barrow’s bed, its earthy smell

spreading through the burgeoning garden of his memory—

how he’d wash loam from under the thick of fingernails;

or, perhaps, how it’ll feel to leave, to liquidate

history before the month’s inauspicious end?

What’s next, I want to know, fertilizer?

Still absorbed, he returns a slight nod

to salvage whatever’s left in the greenhouse:

wicker baskets, hoses, and under a ragged blue tarp

the wheelbarrow overturned and tarnished.


And suddenly, I hear a shattering and a resonance

simultaneously, like grating metal under the quake

of an avalanche, or a felled sycamore, all at once

its twigs snapping below a deep tremble.

The barrow topples as I turn toward the sound.

There, beside his workbench, my grandfather’s sprawled

over an emptied toolbox, the picture frame split apart

to expose a discolored film. His eyes open

but dazed, mouth slumped on one side, limbs

wilting like a hyacinth’s in a long drought,

the vessel of its bulb hardly pumping

enough for the axis to absorb, its purple

resolutions faded to a burnt vanilla,

each withering petal soaking

just enough, enough, enough.


Radford Skudrna is an MFA student at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he also teaches. He majored in both Creative Writing and Anthropology/Sociology at Roger Williams University; all the while, he served as Managing Editor of roger, an art & literary magazine. His poetry has recently appeared in The Missing Slate, Bayou Magazine, and Barely South Review.