Small Back Yard Events

This poem combines two memories, ocurring months apart but linked by location.


Surprisingly quiet back here behind the house
though we live on a busy street
across from a school
People having their grass cut by those big mowers
Airplane overhead
A truck shifting down on the highway a quarter mile away
But you’d think we had a good distance between us
and any neighbor
back here under the trees. All I see
looks like the countryside to me
and I let myself believe
that’s where I am
just this little time I’m sitting here
eating lunch, cheese and crackers and blueberries
at the weathered picnic table
my husband built for me
The wood is grayed
edges of the bench seats softened
by the winters this table has spent out here
and by the rains and the little bit of sunshine
that gets through here under the trees.
I focus on the sounds of cicadas and birds
the insects going strong despite the heat
the birds subdued. No one joins me at this table
It’s mine. No other person uses it.
Though I think plenty of others know I’m here
and it’s not to say this table goes idle
here under the trees
I scuff my feet on last year’s leaves
carpeting the under-table ground
slap a gnat away
ants crawl toward my empty plate
Here in the shade under the trees
I reflect on the hawk I saw
at this table last winter
leisurely and thoroughly devouring a squirrel
a good-sized hawk, I mean
Stood right there on that corner
Took his time
Left only when there was nothing more to eat
just bones left behind
which were nowhere to be seen
the next day
Well, it’s rained a lot since then
So I don’t feel anything about it at all
except that I think that every meal at this table
is a good meal
and anyone is welcome
at this table


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