BEFORE SUMMER

Slow day for poetry on the page,
late rains and weeds need spraying
to keep the summer fire danger down
and snakes crossing cleared ground
around the house and barn, along
the driveway to barbed wire grazing—

a step at a time, wand in rhythm waving
a fan of chemicals over green, a sparkling
mist in morning light upon what I can’t
hoe by hand. A clump of bright-yellow
monkeyflowers yawning will have to go,
last year’s seed germinating after my first

application, after the first rain in sixty days
to start our season, leaving stunted clumps
of White Stem Filaree, miniature needles
and tiny purple bloom surviving, but not
thriving with the beginnings of Mare’s
Tails, rosettes spread into a thick carpet—

summer weeds, thick four-foot forests
without cows. Habit now, every spring,
prepare for summer and clear the garden—
we lean forward in the harness, sway
in slow motion before more than we can
care for—grin as our scale beam teeters.

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