Never had to mow he grumbles,
pulling the cord to the lawnmower.
The engine revs & hums
like the train when it passes
on the tracks, in the backyard,
the house run-down, the paint faded,
the steps on the front porch sagging,
the key to the shed lost to some previous tenant,
the furnace breaking
The blades whirr & purr and cut away the first green of this Spring.
It reminds him of his first shave;
God, it killed him, trimming
those first red hairs.
He didn’t have a father and needed to talk to someone muscular
so he called Grandpa, who answered, laughing,
thirteen year-olds don’t need to shave.
He remembers, at thirteen,
feeding Olivia sweet potatoes.
One Father’s Day she gave him a card
and a kiss
and that’s probably when the first hair grew.
As a kid he didn’t have to mow the lawn
at the homeless shelter, in Seattle, and in Macomb
the landlord took care of it. Now he does.
The blades die; out of fuel. A few yards to his left
a patch he missed.
Not good enough he tells himself,
the Lord, his father, Grandpa, the house,
the lawnmower, the damned train