The boys' hair voodoos the tomato stalks.
We have swept it from the kitchen floor
after haircuts & straw colored it spirals
from the garden soil, already half-buried
like tablets etched with Linear B,
untranslatable among eggshells & soap flakes.
I kneel & watch it rain upon the diligent grubs,
beetles & the zigzag caravans of ants.
The stalks nod with unripe Big Boys,
Calypsos, green marbles of Cherries in clusters.
Human hair, marigolds, Irish Spring
I flake with a cheese grater in a talismanic
circle, charms against squirrel & raccoon.
High summer evening, high nineties & the boys run
tonsured through the sprinkler spray, the sound
as it revolves a quirky but robotic
staccato, like the voice of David Byrne
cackling "Once in a Lifetime." You may ask
yourself, how do I work this?
They will lay waste to the fruits of your labors,
useless are all of your spells. For now the wind
is rising. A thick, cheap scent over everything,
scent the color of Key lime pie, scent
the color of my father, eighteen years dead
& stepping from the shower stall, taking in
the steam in deep self-conscious
breaths, his own futile talisman
against emphysema, angina, Jim Beam.
Soap lather beards his face. You may ask yourself,
how did I get here? He is ash in a canister
in the veterans cemetery in St. Paul
& his DNA helixes up the pale outline
of Luke's spine, glinting now
in the sprinkler's jittery rainbows. Let the water
hold me down. Back & forth they pace
the sprinkler's cage. They squeal & turn to me
in their delight. Same as it ever was, saamme
as it ever wassss & the breeze pulls the spray
toward me until I am mist as well. Lord,
abide this instant back to them when I
am ash, though I kneel absurdly with
a cheese grater, kneepads, & a flint head
of soap. Same as it e-ver was, same as it
e-ver was. Sundown, mosquitoes
tuning up, a gilt of fireflies
slathering the Adirondack chairs.
My knees scrape eggshell, beflowered
with deadheaded marigolds & the tufts of hair
billow up from the dirt to my face.