Wednesday, August 2, 2017


I feel compelled, as I leave the coffee shop,
to push chairs in to their tables and straighten
newspapers into neat stacks. Easy enough.
The leaves in the stand of oak trees
in my backyard are raked into a bag almost
as soon as they fall, leaving only clean earth

between trunks. As far as compulsions go,
it seems harmless enough. At night, I sit
on the edge of my bed and tick through each
of my children and grandchildren, holding them
one at a time in my thoughts, thoroughly
scanning each one, combing through their lives

the way I comb though the long hair along
the forearms of my Australian Shepherd
after our walks, looking for stickseed and burs
that need cutting out. The dog puts his nose
through the fences surrounding the pastures
and animal pens we pass as we walk,

and I can see it twitch, see his eyes dart back
and forth as he accounts for each animal,
his legs quivering as the pull of instinct tells him
those sheep should be formed up, those free-
range chickens enjoy entirely too much
freedom, and he looks up at me as if to say,

can’t you see it? just give the order and I’ll
have things ship-shape in no time. And of course
I can see it, understand his need to herd, but these
are not ours, I tell him, and we move on,
ignoring the free-range world flickering
on the periphery, unfollowing Facebook friends,

unsubscribing from newspapers, walking
quickly around human humps and their middens
downtown, working, instead, to organize
the spice rack alphabetically, moving at a good clip
through cast and bring and cross-drive, until cardamom
sheds safely in its place next to cinnamon. 

(originally published in Frontier Poetry, 2017)

No comments:

Post a Comment