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Watching squash grow, a poem by Eric Chiles



Watching squash grow

I lashed the bamboo tripod

for pole beans to crawl but

a squirrel-planted mystery

hijacked the mound then

exploded in late summer

with sandpapery umbrella

leaves and muscular vines.

When it sprouted five-pointed

orange star blossoms we

guessed the rodents harvested

pumpkin seeds from last

year's jack-o-lantern for a

winter snack, and we started

to plan Thanksgiving dessert.

The hose-like vines snake

through the garden over

taking tomatoes, peppers,

eggplant, string beans, basil,

tendrils creeping up the fence,

a green pyramid whose leaves

cast a jungle-like shade.

Bumble bees pollinate

the plate-sized flowers

which in a day curl in

on themselves. A small

green ovule swells at their

base getting plumper,

yellower day by day,

swallowing the shriveled

petals until they are

brown flakes at the globe's

bottom, its girth

bulging from bulb

to yellow balloon almost

before our amazed eyes.

In the morning just yellow,

by dusk green radiates

down the curves, and dreams

of pie turn to thoughts

of sliced squash sauteed

in butter or baked side dishes

by fall's first frost.

Eric Chiles, a graduate of I.U.'s graduate writing program and a former newspaper editor, is an adjunct professor of writing and journalism. He is the author of the chapbook "Caught in Between" (Desert Willow Press), and his poetry has appeared in such journals as The American Journal of Poetry, Blue Collar Review, Canary, Main Street Rag, Plainsongs, Rattle, Sport Literate, San Pedro River Review, Tar River Poetry, and Third Wednesday.