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Bill Meissner

The Man Who Wrestled the Lawn

There’s always a weed here, a weed there, poking
their sharp noses through his dreams.
Everywhere he looks, there’s too much crabgrass,
too little sunlight, never enough chance
of rain. He marches into his yard;
the blue vinyl snake of the hose coils around his leg
and he’s Ahab, drowning
in the unkempt green sea.

At hardware stores, he catches himself gazing longingly
at stocky Briggs and Stratton mowers, browsing aisles
of power leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, yard edgers, weed whackers
that could cut the knees off a whole army of green.
He never rests from this endless mowing and digging and trimming,
this edging and raking and mulching.
His wife and children watch from
afar, flowers in pots he tends to once a week.
His friends are dried wreaths kept in the attic.
His life is dedicated to battle, his mission
to cut the chaos, to poison the thistled opposition
before it flaps its prickly lime tongue.
A weed is death, he thinks, and death is a weed.
His mornings are an extra-sturdy plastic ground cloth, unrolling,
clean wood chips covering it all the way to the horizon.
His afternoon is spigots and sprinklers,
double-thick white cloth gloves gripping the neck
of a Garden Weasel ‘til it chokes. Dusk
is a gray Lawn Boy moving in from the east, its thick wheels
spinning at the flip of a switch.
By June, he’ll have the best yard in the neighborhood,
his row of Ace rakes standing at attention in the garage.

After he’s in his grave,
a groundskeeper on a riding lawn mower might pause above him.
Somehow, from deep under the soil, he’ll feel the mower’s vibrations,
its humming, humming,
soothing him to sleep.
His face, polished as a decorative stone,
will look serene, finally, perfect
as an overcast morning sky with a sure promise of rain.

Bill Meissner has published four books of poems: American Compass [U. of Notre Dame Press], Learning to Breathe Underwater, and The Sleepwalker's Son [both from Ohio U. Press], and Twin Sons of Different Mirrors [Milkweed Editions]. He teaches creative writing at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. His web page is: His Facebook author page is:!/pages/Bill- Meissner/174769532541232?sk=info.
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