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.