My hands hurt; even my fingernails ache
from pulling weeds which were neglected too long,
allowed to grow until they assumed (and why not?)
that the garden belonged to them
or any wild seed which might blow by
or be dropped by birds.
Why is it my shoulders straining at burdocks
which have definitely settled in for the summer?
Why not some unsuspecting teenager’s
who might have been conned into doing the job
for a few dollars an hour, and who, by nightfall,
wouldn’t feel a twinge; would sleep like a pup?
I will feel every muscle in my body
and stay awake until all hours.

The only answer I can give
is that at least I was the one
who felt the wind freshening;
and where the grass was deepest by the stone border,
I was the one who stared the wild cat in the eye
and did not blink first.

Posted by kind permission of the poet.
Copyright © 2006.
From Half-Light (Ithaca, NY:  Vista Periodista, 2006.