On a day when people rip themselves apart

to kill people they have never met,

we caulk the cracks in the rickety wooden ladder

to help a few more innocent salmon

grow to a size that fits our platters.

The leaky dam holds back the water for a time

so children can swim. The widening water drowns

the sedges on the shore that flourished

through the winter in the black earth near the creek.

The blackberry bramble reaches for new space,

spreading to the lawn where steel blades

will hack it back before it blooms.

When the lump of the cells within her breast

no longer knew how to be a part of her—

that they were striving after their own early death,

that her other cells would hold them fast and seal

them in until she had the strength and help

to burn them, poison them, starve them, cut them out—

when I heard of this other life beneath her skin,

I began to pull the plants I did not want

from among the favored ones I did,

to weed,

to kill the plants with broad leaves and yellow

blooms that spread their strain of life,

this other,

unbidden and unwanted, among and over

the lean and flowerless blades of grass.

We come in machines, smelted and tooled from rocks

of the earth, burning the distilled life of eons,

on a smear of dried and hardened tar and gravel,

the remnant sludge of that same infernal distillation,

to a pool that’s not a pool without a steel

wall, a stream that’s not a stream without

a wooden run, a meadow that’s not a meadow

without the chainsaw and the ax,

and watch the guiltless children play and scribble

from our hearts in ink the caulking of our lives,

in lines of thought made lines of written words

to realize the souls we hope we have.