Sitting on the nitro wagon,
Grandpa planted nitro
His hands, now blueveined,
and slow, beautiful, pure,
It could have been the pearl sunrise
along the ditched and drained land
where his boyhood sat, throwline taut between
finger and thumb, bobber red and white, silent
waiting for the strike: bluegill or catfish;
the green soybean rows just tipping
flat black land, pushed-back lake.
The glacier's retreat, the swamp;
It could have been the way the moon one night
or the long disappointment of mailboxes;
the way year flushed into year, the sky
the drift of time: the yellow drip
So here I am standing in my yard,
with new electric trimmers,
middle-aged and perplexed;
my desire for order
in a quarrel with my need
for growing things to find
their own green way.
I wonder if the stars and planets
close in upon themselves
in a similar
standing in the chaos of the sky?
I wonder if neighborhoods,
revolving inward on themselves
close in like that—
collapse and fall,
like shooting stars?
And if I start these blades,
can I stop?
Will the forsythia bloom
as a box? Will the lilacs
like being cubed?
And I’ll tell you one thing
about that drive-by death downtown:
Originally appeared in The Comstock Review.
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