I plant the seeds carefully
using rich soil and compost—
tomatoes, beets, radishes,
tatsoi, arugula, cucumber
and patty pan squash.

Then I wait.

Soon the tiny seedlings appear.
They push up through the soil,
a miracle of fragile green!

Every morning I go out,
check for two-petaled cucumber sprouts,
tatsoi’s baby leaves
and blossoms on the tomatoes.

I am blissful at the transformation,
the verdant power within seeds,
their determination to sprout and grow.

But then one morning,
I find my best tomato plant,
with its tiny fruit already forming,

The following morning the beets,
with their showy red and green leaves,
have disappeared.

In their place stand mounds of disturbed soil.
My carefully tended garden—destroyed.

The destruction must be
coming from the outside,
birds burrowing
through the chicken-wire cage.

I use garden cloth
to create a barrier.

The next day,
the squash plant,
its roots demolished,
wilts to the ground.

I probe under the dirt mounds
find a network of tunnels.
The culprit is inside!

These churning, twisting routes
are set in their course,
perfect in their ability to deliver the gophers
from underground
to destroy the inner garden.

They chow on my carefully tended roots,
snap off delicate leaves,
upend all my coveted creations.

I call on the Friend,
ask this inner power to help.

Shining Its light across the landscape,
It illuminates the source of the challenge,
the cause exposed.

My boyfriend and I
fearlessly flush the tunnels
with Castor oil,
peppermint oil and water.

The next day, the garden sits quiet,
no more dead plants,
no more loose dirt mounds.

I right the toppled tomato,
and though it sags a bit,
it may survive,
as may the squash.

I plant more beet and cucumber seeds,
more arugula and tatsoi.

The old, destructive tunnels collapse,
while new roots flourish,
bringing even richer growth
to my peaceful garden.