Weed-whacking

Knee-deep in the yard
full of weeds, I contemplate

familial obligation;
even months after those weeds are dormant,

roots sleeping underground, the sound
of whirring, the wet green fleck of stems

furring my legs resists forgetting.
Beheading the dandelions requires a firm grip

holding the spin and slice at arm’s length.
Those tiny plastic ropes could cut you up

as well as any weed. The trick is not to think
of blood. The trick is not to let it pierce your skin.


To: City in the Country

I must leave you. You are too small for anyone to grow—
although I love your blueberry shrubs in spiky, neat red rows,
I can’t look at every corner on the weekend, where churches
sprout from their dark windows and closed doors.

I can’t stand your gaudy highway signs, or the noses up
downtown, where they shoot quaint Christmas movies
and the stores shut after five so you can’t get a warm coffee
or directions or eye contact with other benign strangers.

I look at the fifty swans that fill your pasture and feel sad
because the greenhouses pretend this place is warmer than it is,
grow year-round fruit, try to compete with California, which
even in their drought is selling produce to local suburbanites.

When you came through my grocery line with damp-shoe
grumbling, your faces squelched at ordinary torrents, I tried
to fill you with my well-intentioned produce. I tried to fit
my wares—even just the ones you cherry-picked—into your bag,

which you would take home and then think what you wanted.
I have no more forgiveness for your negligence, nor space
for your chicken shit in some person’s humble tent and I am tired
of the way you treat people who aren’t as rich as you,

because let’s face it: you’re an underdog. You’ve tried to make it
catchy, our hinterland chic, but giant fruit sculptures
aren’t unique or as good as the real thing. You won’t fund the arts,
but maybe you wouldn’t need so many cops if people felt they could sing

outside a church basement, or busk, or recite poetry in the street
or attend free workshops where they could learn to paint
our vision of this place, one that’s not full of big box stores
but mountains, because mountains are what you hold in your heart

when you’re thinking of leaving. They’re what makes this place sacred.
I will be sad to leave you. I’ll write my love into a box and bury it
on the mountain where my mother used to take our dead pets. I will give
my heathen prayers to your birds’ nests. I still love your cedar smells,

your morning rain, your never really winter. The little lights
in your dark windows, and of course your kneeling children,
the ones who still see clearly when the moon silvers the valley,
whispering fervently: please take me anywhere but here.


Under Aldergrove Lake

Buried under covers, I dream of sand
its soft, coarse weight in one palm, then
the other, damp from the lake we made
carrying buckets to fill this deep hole—

what is manmade?

Remember the wet, smooth cut

your pale arm

through the water, making green
clear. Look into the mirror, dip

your eyes in. See the sunlight dim
and sounds slow to a single breath

and a breath.

Look up: the trees have gone still
as skyscrapers, the sky cobalt steel

—are you still there? the call from the beach,
worried I’ve gone too deep
into that other world. Lift myself to the surface.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Breathe again,
forget, and wake.

Where is here? My pale face pressed

against the glass.

Black tri-dot

Image by: Gloria Cabada-Leman