AT LEAST WE WERE HONEST
My parents never mowed the lawn.
In a neighborhood of coifed grass,
the lawn was dead all year 'round --
sun-blasted weeds waving over the brink of driveway,
my father drunk in the basement where dandelions
tapped softly on windows while my mother surveyed
the sea of scoured brush outside with a shrug.
I'd sit in the middle of the yard,
tugging the coarse grass from the ground,
making believe each bloodless flower was alive and bending
in the wind as I watched Mike and Jenny Cosgrove skip down
their front lawn and pull roses up by their roots.
Sometimes I pictured their parents' car rolling down the driveway,
catching their delicate hair in the spokes of the new hubcaps
to drag them like screaming blonde pinwheels turned scarlet
through the streets.
You should have seen my mother's face when I told her what I
had dreamt up and about the time Anthony Montenary made
fun of our lawn and I beat him with a stick.
By the time I was ten, I had punched Eric Simmons in the mouth
and hit his brother, Steven, with a brick,
the bubble of blood forming on his forehead
like a tiny, red geranium before he screamed for his mother.
I never told anyone that I did it because I hated the sight
of the rhododendron bushes lining his family's driveway
and the preened hyacinth opening their yellow ears
to our conversations next door,
to the muffled roar of my father.
Later, when my mother shook me in a fume,
I grew dizzy and saw the neighborhood from above,
saw each half acre we had to pretend on,
each pristine house as a lie,
wounds dressed with flowers and luxuriant lawns,
bright and green as glass.
I saw Mrs. Cosgrove hit her husband across the mouth
with the dull end of a butter knife,
saw Anthony Montenary's father pull on silk stockings,
saw Mr. Simmons throw Steven into a wall because
he'd been beaten up by a girl.
MFA in poetry from The University of Arizona Writing Program
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