She never hails me friendly over the fence,
it is always a conspiracy.
She clucks my name quietly
from her garden like a secret,
her tight curly hair, a dark comb and cape.
“Can you hear the boys crowing?” she asks,
a pained apology in her eyes.
“I didn’t know what they were,
but now that I do, they can’t stay.”
“I will probably have to destroy them,”
she glances down at balled fists,
looks determined at what must be done.
“Do you need eggs?” She brightens.
Softening, she opens her hands with two in each,
a brown, a pale green, and two white.
One is a pullet egg, a cock egg, a wind egg,
a faerie egg, a witch egg.
She smirks at the smallest one, embarrassed
“The little one named Squishy laid that,”
and there is a great tenderness, a proud mother,
a child’s odd and simple effort made beautiful.
Under feather moments ago, the eggs are still warm.
“I lost all my tropicals in the frost,” she says flatly.
“My Spring bulbs are coming in with the sun,” I chirp.
“It’s just what they need, after sleeping so long in the cold.”
She says this while looking up at the ivy-laden window
where her bedroom curtains shroud the light.
I look down at the pointed green promise,
knife tips in the black soil.
Soon, the tulips unfurl their emerald rabbit ears,
buds will arrow through, closed tight as peapods,
so many meditative eyelids, dreaming
something deep and colorful.
A cloud passes over her countenance,
“I have to go,” she says, reaching out,
nesting the eggs into my cupped hands.
“The blackberry and ivy are choking everything.”
She scratches her feet in the dirt, kicking up dust
and dormant seeds, drumming the insects.
There is a nature that suddenly needs.
What starts in pink flower goes thick in thorns.
Without a cutting care, the blackfruit becomes
too buried in bramble to eat.
Any hands reaching in to attend are made ragged
for their helpful or hungry efforts.
The green is forever eating, growing, covering
until it is a wild that begs taming, unearthing
or killing. Still, it is impossible to discourage
a flower from a crevice in the pavement
and tomatoes do forever escape their cages.
I watch her disappear beyond the fence
and the wall she has built where only
hens and chicks grow in wild clutches.
Her backdoor shushes closed, a ruffle of
barebreasted girls brood, whisper from the coop,
hiding their blood feathers in hot, empty nests.