William Lawerence Betz
…and passengers ask the conductor;
What place is this?
Where are we now?
-Carl Sandburg 1918
The calming, dampening
smell of mowed grass
meanders with the evening down our street.
The whining whiz of
the weed eater’s twine buzzes
and clatters against the clapboards of the tool shed
as I put the finishing touches on my yard, edge the walk to the pool
flowers to their places now neatly trimmed.
Earlier, had been
along day for everyone, with the attacks
shaking those of us miles from
the east coast, from New York City, Washington
Pennsylvania awake this morning with a terrible start.
I sat for the first
few hours trying to finish my soggy bowl of corn flakes
unable to look
away from the constant breaking news and desperate updates.
Then the first tower
110 plus stories came
crashing to the pavement in a mushrooming,
enveloping cloud of choking
dust and I knew there would be more
terrible stories to come before the
second tower fell.
This exhausted me.
Finally, I thought, I
need to get my yard done but this,
this thought made me feel guilty, callused, for a moment un-American.
dying, missing, crying and I sit in Arkansas or Nebraska
concerned about my damn lawn.
So I turned the TV
down but not off.
Stepping out into the
yard the landscape has changed to a strange new skyline.
I am relived to hear that the neighborhood, that America
is still alive, dogs still bark beyond my fence, cars slowly roll past.
The drivers and I,
edger in hand, exchange quick looks into one another’s eyes
to each other as we pass that we are aware of what has happened
as we are unclear as what to do next.
Heads poke over the
hedge needing attention as the giggling kids next door bounce
on their trampoline and I begin to hear the hum of other mowers, Murrays,
John Deeres starting up and I know that I am now mowing alone
The grass needs
cutting and it will grow and need to be cut again
before summer slumbers
for the winter.
It’s only September.
Life goes on sometimes
We will survive and I
am reminded for some reason of the lines
“I am grass.
Let me work.”