Artifacts Upon Artifacts–A Poem (March 2010)

I mowed the lawn today,

a March afternoon,

the Oregon Coast.

A few spring beads still clung to the blades.

Grass never seems dry here.

It’s all pointless, this mowing of lawns.

But we do it anyway.

Can’t let the lawn become a field.

Can’t go with what we really want.

The noise and smoke scattered the robins,

and then I saw it—her white barrette—near the bleached dog bone,

leaning against the foundation,

tinted with mold.

I stopped, idled the mower, picked it up, inspected.

An artifact now.

I put it back where I’d put it before.

It was a summer night.

Fire in the burn barrel.

Fog thick. Fog sprinting past.

Ocean rolling forever behind us.

Good honest whiskey talk.

But there is no such thing.

Even from me to you.

Somehow the barrette fell from your blonde hair,

perhaps my hand the culprit,

and hid itself.

Until two weeks later,

after you left me for the drunk in your band,

when I nearly mowed over it.

I wanted to. I had the power—this time.

One must not destroy artifacts.

Artifacts upon artifacts reveal a story,

if an archaeologist wants to dig.

The historian can make sense of it later.