TO START, AS THE SNOW COVER RECEDES

the renegade bower beside the driveway
is sheared, in some desperation,
by more than half, to a six-foot height
opening light to a strip that will become her kitchen garden

while on the other side of the house
the twigs and limbs accumulate as three mounds
each the size of a single-car garage

nothing exactly by plan
between my hours at the office and helping
renovate the barn
saw, lop, and cart away

repeatedly, we wonder what the next gyration will expose

am I playing a king or a knight or simply a pawn
in this emerging stratagem of twigs and mud?

even without neat little squares to navigate,
I learn about deciduous shrubbery
as well as my new wife and her kitchen-side herbs
on a narrow belt no longer darkened

however abbreviated, the hedge
regenerates as a thickened partition, mainly as decorum
since the tenants on the other side overhear
nearly everything, anyway
especially with the windows ajar

maybe you can see where my labor of discovery is going
one row at a time, exposing the full board
unaware of the phalanxes already forming
behind me, the array of squirrels countering children
all called to some battlefront where I would
throw myself on a grenade, heroically
ending my complicated past while providing for heirs
though life rarely ever solves itself as easily as a lottery
no, in the meantime, I’ll simply dig up tons of sod
to open slashes for my beloved’s intended cultivation
and convey the heavy massed roots to the far yard
we now call “the swamp,” for good reason
or even “the Irish garden,” as our own bad joke
as in the Old Sod
all of it back-aching labor by the boatload
all the while the squirrels run their overhead arteries

to establish order is always a start
on the opposite flank of a house screening a queen
even one stalemated in a small city

poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson

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