Whipping the kitchen door shut,
he kicks through the garage and rips
the power mower into a roar. Shoving it
down the driveway's edge, he turns and scrapes curb
to the neighbor's boxwood hedge, spinning the mower there
as if swinging a rifle into a crowd of wives.
She has telephoned her mother by now,
and her simpering psychologist friend
who works two days at the free clinic.
Pass after pass, he shaves the yard into a shrinking
box of grass. The first row of clippings
he rakes in slashes, tearing up rooted grass with the mown.
But as he moves in a flickering circle of
screening down through the dappled trees,
he pauses, and turning toward the house,
rests his chin on hands cupped at the tip
of the rake, bouncing slightly on the spring-
steel tines. He looks for a long time, then turns
toward the yard and begins raking slowly, almost
tenderly, as if drawing a brush through a woman's hair.
© 2001 Kenneth Chamlee
Kenneth Chamlee is the I. B. Seese Distinguished
Service Professor of English and Creative Writing at Brevard
College where he has taught since 1978. He holds a Ph.D. in
English/Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina
at Greensboro. His poems have appeared in many magazines,
including The Asheville Poetry Review, College
English, The Cumberland Poetry Review, The
Greensboro Review, GSU Review, and The Sandhills
Review. In 1999 he won the GSU Review National
Writing Award in Poetry, judged by Philip Levine, and ByLine
Magazine's National Poetry Chapbook Competition for a
collection of lyric poems, Absolute Faith, published
the same year. He has won residencies at the Vermont Studio
Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and
received two Pushcart Prize nominations.