Sequestering the Feeling of Grass
Once a year I cross oceans of manatee
waterweed, frogbit—the sort of grass that
cowers under the weight of us.
I go to pull weeds from the base
of my father’s tree. He hates weeds.
Weeds squat in cracked paths
like travellers and their big-eyed children,
spread unruly between geraniums,
choke drains carried by the delinquent
pigeon that tips the bird bath for the hell of it.
It never occurred to him or any of us
that the grass he so assiduously mowed
would scream at the sight of roiling blades,
that the divine smell of his tight- clipped lawn,
in lines of a bowling green,
was sending out hormones of fear—
warnings, not memories of afternoons
in September when I’d come home spiked
with hay, damp patches on my jeans.
I wanted to ask if you could see
the wing shadowing our growing up,
if you could bear that we weren’t tidy
or musical, as dark cells seeded
a requiem in the marrow of your glassy bones.
If you could find a kind chaos
playing your flute, arrangements
that sometimes broke rules.
I never got to tell you that somewhere deep,
not green at all, but dry as your throat
on the last night, I feel the pain of grass
cut too short, the dying a slow brown death—
the smell of it.
First published in Shearsman, UK.