is puttering, evenings, weekends, inspecting his gutters,
plucking out loquats, acorns, eucalyptus leaves,
so the still far-off November rain can leave
his roof quickly, with elegance. He hales forth
bindweed from the chinks between sidewalk slabs,
star thistle from the caulking around the pool
where gangster grasses shoot their way to glory.
Sometimes during high wind a shingle breaks
loose in the night and clatters onto the patio.
Could he see in the dark he’d leap out of bed,
climb his aluminum ladder and wedge the cedar
shield back in place—before the roof rats
got wind of it. He lies there waiting for dawn.
Like model before mirror, he cannot sit on his deck
Sundays without discovering fresh enemies to beauty.
There’s a gopher hill beside the spa, sprung-up
overnight like a mushroom; and on the lawn
a real mushroom he’d swear wasn’t there
last evening. The forces of darkness have flung
a beer bottle over the fence. It’s lying among
his roses, crying, “This Bud’s for You!”
A shrike has eaten a finch or sparrow and left
beak, legs, feathers dangling from a twig
on his ornamental pear. His right hand flashes
forth in love and anger—drops bird in trash
can, bottle in compactor. What a war!
From Heavy Lifting (Alehouse Press, 2007).
Used with the author’s permission.