Freshwater

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.