Lengths of grass
By Michael Lithgow
I watch from my kitchen window the dying light of a day
puffing itself to sleep slowly over the yard, wanting to be noticed.
There’s no fence; instead, the landscape is a dreary collection
of mid-century bungalows hunched like dullards around an empty well,
pale shades of vinyl siding hiding everything, and a late winter snowfall
on the grass brightening shadows. I think it’s me, but I see it’s sky
glowing pale orange over roofs turning leafless trees into attractive veins
above the shingles. There’s no looking away from this collection of lives
like butterflies pinned to a pioneer dream. All this suburban silence
is enough to make you mad, which is why neighbours send complaints
to city lawyers about weeds, snowflakes on sidewalks and lengths of grass.
It’s hard to know what we share. I occupy so little of this landscape,
a thin line to my car, mostly. And my view of Ernie, Dale, Lotti and Henry
doing things to their yards with tools and the kind of patient persistence
that no doubt comes only after capitalism has had its way. It’s so easy
to miss, drifting among the mortgages and boredom. A dying day’s light
fading like sighs of a tired giant.
Michael Lithgow’s essays and poetry have appeared in academic and literary journals, including the Literary Review of Canada, ARC, Contemporary Verse 2, American Communication Journal, TNQ and The Fiddlehead. His first collection of poetry, Waking in the Tree House, was published by Cormorant Books in 2012 and shortlisted for the Quebec Writers’ Federation First Book Award. Work from this collection was included in the 2012 anthology Best Canadian Poetry in English (Tightrope Books). He currently lives in Edmonton, AB and teaches at Athabasca University.