In her own words...
Cultivating people can be arduous,
With results as uncertain as weather.
Try oysters, meerkats, turnips, mice.
My mouse field was a triumph of
Cultivation—pink noses poking
Through quilts of loam, scampering
In the furrows—until the falling
Dwarves (it was that time of year)
Began landing on my field. Fear for
Its harvest had me down on hands
And knees muttering, “Not here,”
My nails clawed at tangles of fat
Dwarves crushing mouse families.
Then, unbelievably, it was over.
By morning every dwarf, maddened
By nibbling mice, had fled the field.
Now, as before, each day, dozens
Of perfect mice leave for the city.
There, they have made many friends
Among computers, and with them
Are developing skills inconceivable
To their forebears. Already, these
Cultivated mice and their computers
Penetrate guilty secrets. Soon they will
Prevail over the turmoil that defines
This darkest of ages. And they will
Find me, asleep in my cave.
About this work
"Cultivation" was first published in The Paris Review, No. 191 (Winter 2009), p. 111. It is also included in Dorothea Tanning's book, Coming to That: Poems, New York: Graywolf Press, 2011, p. 6, and may not be reprinted without the publisher's permission.