I’m two driveways from home
and wonder when the ash overtook
the yard, shade soaking the grass
like dark honey.

Its trunk has raised the earth
and the circles of dandelions at its base,
bright yellow heads of hope.

I remember how my father mowed
his weeds flat, yanked roots
with his right hand
efficient as a pickaxe.

I never felt the urgency
to demand only goodness
from the living.
I never took a leather strap
to the bare skin of my son,
or slapped my daughter across
her wide-opened mouth.

This is your sanctuary,
I say to the land.
Leave your mark,
a ragged trace,
a path of imperfection.


The Comstock Review, 2013