Quincy Grass

One eternal morning of childhood, the sun begins
to sift haze above the Mississippi River

before trees grab the lowering light. Not far away,
in a small subdivision full of muddy lots waiting

for houses and supplying children with the dirt clod
that will, tomorrow, bust open one boy’s eyelid, a little girl,

the youngest of three children –the fragile, coddled one—
hunches in her pilled pink polyester nightgown over a small

fur-lined nest of baby rabbits at the bottom of the hill
behind her home. They look like the bottoms of her father’s

Sunday naptime toes, nestled tight: absurd toes
with closed eyes,  greasy transparent ears, tiny feet.

She gently strokes the back of each one. It is quiet.
Suddenly she is afraid. There is a stand of trees

behind her, shading where she squats in wet grass,
and beyond that, a long brick house holding her mother

vacuuming, or wiping from the kitchen table the dab
of milk beneath her cereal spoon, or looking out

the kitchen window above the sink, wondering where
Rachel has run off to. There she is. The girl pads barefoot,

panting openmouthed up the hill, through the sliding glass
door of the walkout basement, up carpeted stairs

into the dining room. “Mommy! There are baby bunnies!
They are pink!” Her mother folds the wet cloth lengthwise

three times and drapes it over the long silver faucet.  She insists
Rachel wear slippers. Together they walk across green lawn

around the trees. When she sees the rabbits tucked so helplessly,
obviously, into a burrow of grass in the middle of the yard,

she tells Rachel, “Don’t touch them, honey, so their mother
will come back.” And Rachel knows then that she has killed them.

She doesn’t tell her mother as they walk hand in hand
through the house’s shadow, back up the hill that is only large

because she is so small.  Later that afternoon, when she sneaks
out on bare tip toe to look at them once more, the nest is empty.

Her brow creases. She peers across the taller grasses beyond the edge
of lawn, but can’t see down deep. She studies the roots of the trees.

They are nowhere. Twenty nine years later, three days
after Rachel’s little sister dies of cancer, and before she is lowered

into a water-filled grave, her mother drives away.  The mud
is carpeted with two long rectangles of perfect sod.  Driving

past the old house with her three children, Rachel sees the hill
is only a gentle slope, though it once went down forever.

3 October 2010

One eternal morning of childhood, the sun begins
to sift the haze above the Mississippi River,

before the trees grab the lowering  light. Not far away,
in a small subdivision full of muddy lots waiting

for houses and supplying children with the dirt clod
that will, tomorrow, bust open one boy’s eyelid, a little girl,

the youngest of three children and the sickly, pampered pet,
hunches in her pilled pink polyester nightgown over a small

fur-lined nest of baby rabbits at the bottom of the hill
behind her home. They look like the bottoms of her father’s

Sunday naptime toes, nestled tight: absurd toes
with closed eyes,  greasy transparent ears, tiny feet.

She gently strokes the back of each one.
Suddenly she is afraid. There is a stand of trees

behind her, shading where she squats in the wet grass,
and beyond that, a long brick house holding her mother

vacuuming, or wiping the kitchen table of the dab
of milk her discarded cereal spoon left, or looking out

the kitchen window above the sink, wondering where
Rachel has run off to. There she is. The girl pads barefoot,

panting openmouthed up the hill, through the sliding glass
door of the walkout basement, up the carpeted stairs

into the dining room. “Mommy! There are baby bunnies!
They are pink!” Her mother folds the wet cloth lengthwise

three times and drapes it over the long silver faucet.  She insists
Rachel wear slippers. Together they walk out on the green lawn

around the trees. When she sees the rabbits tucked so helplessly,
obviously, into the burrow of grass in the middle of the lawn,

she tells Rachel, “Don’t touch them, honey, so their mother
will come back.” And Rachel knows then that she has killed them.

Aching, she doesn’t tell her mother as they walk hand in hand
through the house’s shadow, back up the hill that is only large

because she is so small.  Later that afternoon, when she sneaks
out on tip toes to look at them once more, the nest is empty.

Twenty nine years later, three days after her younger sister dies
of cancer and is buried in a water-logged grave carpeted

with two long rectangles of perfect sod, she will see that the hill
was only a gentle slope, though it once went down forever.

3 Oct. 2010

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