Monday, March 31, 2008

Mowing the Lawn by Kevin Stein

Putt putt, I ride on fossil fuel, the juice of fern and leaf,
the muck of once-was. Putt putt, I warm our globe
one green acre at a time. As a boy, I mowed without gas power
as does my buddy Dean. Green Dean. Back then as now
it was economics not ecology. Have you priced a hybrid?

I pushed, I sweated, I earned a man’s allowance,
not unlike Tag, the bow-legged Japanese gardener
who plucked the lawn’s eyebrows for my grandmother,
she of blue hair and lace gladiolas terraced along
the terra cotta porch. She of the voice that curdled milk.

Tuesdays he made landfall, hurricane of shears and clippers,
toting the lone mower he’d not so much push as chase.
Tag had no time for lost time, though just to be sure
the war-time feds interned him to save us from the Japs
he wasn’t. The Republic’s no match for paranoia.

Once, chasing the wiffle ball of my World Series,
I spilled over Tag yanking weeds beside the arched porch
trellised with trumpet creeper and the strumming
of hummingbird wings, thrum of this world,
his knees keeping the porch safe for democracy.

That good man sang foreign to me and I got scared –
as kids will. But I didn’t care – as kids won’t,
I please wanted my ball please, which he found
amidst a clutch of dandelions he’d turn to wine.
Come winter he sipped the bittersweet of our fear.

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