Untended two months in my absence,
our backyard’s pigweed and razorgrass
stood waist high against my weed-eater’s
murderous blade. I bent, off balance,
and scythed tight crescents, mowing with
no plan—that night I’d dream it nicked
my shin and hummed into the air
bone-dust and blood. The dying plants lay
in loose, soft loaves, like sleepers
holding close against night fear or wind.
She who let them grow, preoccupied with us,
house, far dying parents—one remembers
childhood German and “meadowlark”
but not his daughter’s name; the ethereal other
recalls what bountiful future waits—
stood a safe distance behind, her voice
wired to the keening edge as gnats
and damselflies fluttered from my cuts.
Wanting worse while she tied off sheaves,
I slanted down to hack and kick up dirt
and stones that scatter-shot my face, wanting
to take something, everything, to its end,
right where our weed garden thrived
with wild fennel and iris. It took two days
and left us weeping and depleted
in our cozy hamlet of shattered steeples,
windfall fences, and stubbled churchyards
where green stuff was already growing back.


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 22 Number 8, on page 54
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