I was fifteen the first time
I offered to mow her lawn.
She wore a floral dress
that flirted tango with the wind.
My nails needed cleaning,
but I thought dirt would make
a good impression. She sized me up,
knew work was the last thing in my mind.
When she asked if I minded sitting
on the porch. I spilled facts
about horticulture my father had taught me
before he stole our car and left.
She looked away explaining, Green cuts me
deeply. This ground will always belong
to my mother. If you can treat it kindly....
Her eyes raked me for honesty.
For years I tended her grass, watered daily,
lowered seasonal bulbs into moist soil,
tore out weeds angrily when her husband
parked the Mercedes in their garage.
His only preoccupations were
cursing football on tv or else
selling goods for weeks away from home.
Often he stepped on my flowerbeds.
Before dying, she admitted
through whispered pain how she opened
her legs at night to divorce,
stared at her lone signature on the page.
But her lawn encroached upon the room,
spread into her mouth like the blood
of crushed caterpillars. Every time
she bit her tongue to keep from crying my name.