To Mow or Not to Mow

A rabbit turned and looked at me

Then looked across my lawn

Anticipating all the grass

His food would soon be gone

He may as well have asked me then

Please stop this instantly

For can’t you see the tall, tall grass

Would feed my family

Instead of mowing on that day

Set out a chair to see

The rabbit eating merrily

And smiling back at me




I’m peeling back and peering through

a froth of feelings, phrases from songs

that keep coming back, feelings for things

left incomplete, campaign slogans,

layers on layers of nuance and baggage,

the flickering shadows of a fan

that stirs the air in a stifling room,

rearranging the light of the afternoon,

nostrums of parents and their ancestors,

loss of my father in silence and grief,

layers of people looking down,

down their noses at colors of skin,

and any religion not their own.

I live in layers of history

sanitized by ghosts of pilgrims

at Plymouth Plantation, waking up

to the horrors of Jim Crow,

and the homeless who haunt city streets,

lenses that color and shape the world.

Staring across the generations,

I see the world through fragments of dreams,

dreams that dry up in the yawning day,

all built on layers that make up the earth,

that shift under the pull of the moon,

that ring like gongs when the plates collide.

JEFF STAPLES, after Stanley Kunitz