failed lawn

susan smith nash



A fringe of brown edges my yard

gives me a border to cross,

a little crust of death to encircle the green --

omnipresent even in the best of times,

despite rain, cool dawns, and all those gentle cliché’s,

like me, in that little part of my heart,

with breathlessness, haste, and greening fields,

where I, too, refuse to grow or thrive.


Without you,

the ordinary hedgerows around my heart

have become more prickly, dry, yet inebriate

with rage and soulful arts


and from that weird paradox

my house looms high,

stone walls dusty, scaled by ivy,

the vaulted windows steamed over

with breath from long ago


at night, my neighbors see faces

or hands pressed up against the glass;

it is a reflection of my various moats

or narratives spun, tales in the making –


of armies of gardeners who stand and frown,

knee-deep in lilies, gladiolus, and green

waging war with that intractable brown,

the fringe I nurture  and neglect

a blossomless future

a brittle past

I, proudly drawing myself up,

refusing, finally, to thrive.



(May 6, 2001)