October’s done its mischief here already.
As has the cat, from the looks of the vole
spinning like a dervish
on the walk near my back door.
A missing foot? A wound? Anything
but ecstasy I can believe. When I box it
for transport to the neighbor’s pines, its body
thumps the cardboard. Let’s think of this
as a primer. My Own Backyard.
It’s where I’m told I should begin.
And it’s greedy for attention.
Always the chickadees; sometimes
the finches. I arrange the errant hose
in the tidy coils of my mind.
The lawn chair on its side will gather snow
if it’s left to me. I picture myself
going out with the sole purpose
of bringing that chair in. I should begin
in my own backyard
where the plumbing
of the recently departed
boiler flails. There’s no shame in devotion
to my little nation of stinks and groans,
this compost pile feeding skunks—
the hegemony of the hedge
on one side, the clear boundary
of my refusal to mow on the other.
I could die here, so convenient a plot.
I could wave my apron like a flag. Come home!
Come home! Leave others
to their yards and bones. There’s no horror
in matched dogs walking you evenings
like a philosophy. Bury me by
the quid pro quo of the quince,
the shed’s Don’t ask me shrug.
Paula Closson Buck’s The Acquiescent Villa was published by Louisiana State University Press in 1998. Recent poems have appeared in Shenandoah, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, and Denver Quarterly. She teaches at Bucknell University and is editor of West Branch. (10/2005)