I pulled the dead tomato vines today,
Once taut with life and thirsting,
Swollen, drinking ferric water from the hose,
Droplets and insects dancing amidst delicate, silken hairs,
Now starved and anemic, brittle and broken,
Petrified in positions of grasping and reaching,
Intertwined and frozen in final embraces,
Sculptures of what life was before the killing frost came.
I tugged them by their shallow roots and shook the soil loose,
Then the pepper plants,
Dropping the last of their clinging fruit
onto a blanket of tawny leaves,
Like Christmas ornaments laid out
on the frowzy brown plaid of my parents’ old couch,
Waiting for tattered tissue paper wrappings,
Returned to back of the closet boxes for another year.
The work was not easy,
Vines and tendrils hopelessly tangled,
Through trellises and cages,
Woven into the chain link fence,
Invading the house’s crumbling rubble stone foundation,
Knotted up with each other and themselves,
I couldn’t tell where one ended
and another began.
In the hazy evening half light,
My friend the rabbit emerged,
Out from underneath my trusty, dusty truck,
A place he goes each time I return home,
Seeking residual warmth from the cooling engine.
I worry about him with his crippled hind leg,
An easy target for the prowling neighborhood dogs
and the hawks hungrily circling, searching, overhead.
I’ve thought of bringing him into the house,
But I know a house is no place for a creature like him.
I think I’ll let the yard grow wild next year,
And let my heart grow wild, too.
I think I’ll get rid of the cages.
I think I’ll seek warmer places.
Free and bending toward the light.