This week’s poem, Anne Cyr’s “First frost, final bouquet,” tells of a gardener’s reckoning with transitional cusp of the autumn. I love how this poem reveals the speaker’s ambivalence as she works, and the vibrant imagery of herbs and flowers surging with life even as cold approaches.

Cyr is a retired elementary school teacher who served the public schools of Maine for over three decades. Upon retirement, she began taking writing classes and workshops at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USM, and since has had several poems, essays, and short stories published in local newspapers, magazines and anthologies. Much, though not all, of her poetry depicts woods or waters of Maine.

Poets, please note that submissions to Deep Water are open through the end of the year. Deep Water is especially eager to share poems by Black writers, writers of color, Indigenous writers, LGBTQ+ writers, and other underrepresented voices. You’ll find a link to submit in the credits below.

First frost, final bouquet
By Anne Cyr

It could no longer be put off—
the weather forecast was cut and dry.
After days of flirting with the freezing point,
frost descends tonight.
The cutting garden—though showing signs
of demise—is still a vibrant clash of color.
Without the usual pleasure, I grab my shears,
put some water in a bucket, head outside.
A stiff northwest wind feeds
a sense of urgency that is absent in the spring
when time is more forgiving.
I find myself competing with the bees,
feeling selfish as I brush them off the cosmos,
add the blossoms to the bucket.
In the herb garden I locate the last blooming betony
taking cover under the rue,
while scarlet spikes of pineapple sage
bravely unfurl for their last stand.
I pull up the pot of rosemary to bring inside,
and while fishing out dead leaves
discover a spring peeper has made the pot his home.
This is too hard, I think, as I return the pot,
giving him a reprieve.
That evening I transform the overflowing bucket
into a lush bouquet while my husband builds a fire.
I wonder about the bees, the peeper, how they will
spend the night, knowing at the same time
that instinct takes over for them, having evolved
to withstand the severity of winter,
wishing the same held true for me.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “First frost, final bouquet,” copyright 2022 by Anne Cyr, appears by permission of the author. Submissions to Deep Water are open now and through the end of the year. For more information, go to

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