Lilith, I don't cut my grass

Enid Dame (1943-2003)

Lilith, I don't cut my grass
as you never cut your hair.
I picture you in my backyard
where it's always cool and ferny,
where jewelweeds grow taller than trees,
where wild berries tangle
like knots in cats' fur.

I see you sorting out the birds from the cats:
two of your favorite animals.
Contradictions never scared you.

Lilith, you smell like the earth
and marigolds and mulchy leaves.
Your arms are mud-bespattered.
You don't look like my mother.

I couldn't ask my mother
for a blessing.
She was too much afraid
of her own craziness.
She only spoke to cats.

Every few months
she went to an expert
to burn all the wilderness
out of her hair.

Once she tried to take me with her.
I scratched and fought,
yowled, ran up an elm tree.
It took years to climb down.

Lilith, I'm almost 50.
I'm running out of time, money, eyesight.
I still bleed but for how long?
Not like this yard where everything is liquid:
where roses sag and break their waters,
tomatoes offer up their juices,
slugs die dreamily in beerbowls,
you dip your toes in green mud.

Lilith, neighbors are complaining.
They're-collecting money
to buy me a power mower.
How can I tell them
I'm terrified of power?
There's too much let loose in the world.
It's one gift I don't need.

Lilith, it's growing later.
I know you won't hang on forever.
They say Messiah's coming any day now.
I hear his footsteps ringing in the hallway.
The clean clang of authority.
I see his shadow looming
big as a condminium
sucking up the sun.
No stopping that man!
He's carrying a squirtgun filled with chemicals.
No room for weeds in his world.

Lilith, bless this garden
while both of us
still use it.

Poem: © Copyright 2005 by the Literary Estate of Enid Dame. All rights reserved.

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