Finally I drive away
from that old house in the city
where drama was spooling out
across the little screen I held:
alcohol, of course, family wounds,
threats of suicide.
I pocket that silenced screen
like a take-out container of active angst –
and I go to Menard’s, where I hear
you can save big money.
I have a list and a promise of 11% back,
nothing but time and an unwieldy metal cart
into which I throw the chainsaw gloves for men,
medium – too big, but the smallest they have.
I have a chainsaw but not a man and
for now that’s preferred.
A bristled mat to wipe my muddy feet
at a different place up north,
some joint compound
to hold the naked seams together,
drink holders for the adirondack chairs
around the fire overlooking
a new view of the river.
A $9 snake to attach to my drill,
to clear out clogs and roots or other things
in the pipes that you can’t see from the surface.
I don’t buy the baby log splitter, though.
Mother’s Day is coming up.
Meanwhile, in my pocket, better friends than I
to my hurting friend from long ago,
reach out to each other,
provide suicide hotline numbers, inspirational quotes,
remind him how much they love him,
someone calls the police.
I push my cart
now carrying the screen tent with magnetic doors
(for the last graduation party)
into the garden center to look at mulch, advertised at $1.97
per bag, a very good deal.
On the way, in the aisle filled to the brim
with the bags of grass seed,
dozens of little brown birds
hop from shelf to floor
and back again,
chirping their fine luck to each other.
I roll into the open
to consider the mulch.
Fat grackles or maybe phoebes make nests in
the eaves, splattering white shit
against the metal walls,
drinking freely from the puddles in the aisle
where a man nails
a pallet together, on his knees on the concrete,
to the god of making it to the end of the day,
the god of the elsewhere mind,
the god of getting through.
Under the twilight sky
birds and more birds
dart through any open spaces
between the watering cans, patio block, garden gnomes, hoses.
I’m looking to fly through open spaces, too,
I’m looking for shelter from the sky
but I don’t want walls,
I just need a little water,
a little seed.
I put a lilac bush in the cart,
I lost that, too, along with my tulips, my daffodils,
my singing frogs, my piece of the river –
I don’t yet know all I lost
and I probably never will.
By the time I am home I see that my friend is on his way
to the hospital, escorted by the police.
I unpack my wares, having saved
and also spent big money, indeed –
while the birds of Menard’s keep on keepin’ on –
they pilfer grass seed they bathe in the puddles in the aisles they watch
as the automatic doors to the main store
open and close
open and close,
the promised land