A slant tender yard;

a fence melds into misshapes of boxwood

where a small Austin Healey convertible

turns slowly a sienna, and sinks

sweetly every five years or so;

seems to bow to an applewood stump

my father chopped and burned

one Christmas 1972.


Looking down through the yard,

I have shaved off my beard

and with it ten solid years

of a different life—the whole west coast

was shaved off from there.


But a certain terror,

a hillside bouquet with a stump

and a sinking car, the sweat work

the very edges of axe swings

September brings.


There are no vineyards here,

although the few young ones,

crabapples in my father’s yard

under a perfect moon have been harvested,

the wine stored in remnant row jars,


and as severe as you can,

the emptiness of changing love,

you can bring it back

to the soft side of your tongue,

a remarkable laughter

in a fistful of regretful grounds.



Rob Jones

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