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 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 kill the plants with broad leaves and yellow
blooms that spread their strain of life
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 essence of eons of life
on a smear of dried and hardened tar,
the remnant sludge of deadly 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.