by allen braden
Nevertheless the front yard, even the hawthorn,
flourished. Various roses built a windbreak,
all the catalpa petals splayed themselves open
and pollen splotched the limbs in gold profusion.
Suppose a woman lived there, a young wife,
her tanned arms dappled from whitewashing,
beautifying the wagon-wheel fence assembled
out of last century’s rumbling west for a better life.
Say years later, while kneeling in her rose and iris bed,
she happened to gaze toward the east forty
and witness the men in her family, at a distance,
circling and swinging their long-handled shovels.
They could’ve been mistaken, a hundred years earlier,
for threshers slapping chaff from the harvest.
They were in fact clubbing a wounded badger,
winnowing its blood into the furrows of stubble.
Now suppose that the iris have grown
wooden, their blues and lavenders blackened.
Razed down to the quick, her roses
promise to return. Prolific. Invasive.
“Remembering Precious Landscape, but with an Elegy in Mind” was first published in Elegy in the Passive Voice.