Elegy for a Landscaper
The holes we find scraped out at the edge
of a paving slab, for instance, so
the cement is a capstone for whatever
goes on beneath. Gary, you knew that lives
go on in those underworlds we are only
conscious of when we hoe around plantings
and discover an entrance, or in a hollow stump
where nobody would risk a hand.
Tree pests, creepers and humpers,
drilling bees, chipmunks, even wood rats
are easily explained, but the mind has
other labyrinths it can populate
the way an Oxford don might furnish
a troll kingdom with everything from warts
to mountain tops down there. These are not
passage graves we can wriggle through
by flashlight to view a stone basin of bones.
Nor would we drink to our diminishment
and enter if we could, as in your way
you did, a laid-off landscaper and veteran
after three rounds of Shock and Awe.
Increasingly wary of human company,
wanting to live among the pines, you chose
a hill beyond town and tunneled for weeks,
strategically poking air holes, and mined
the damp sand to passages and mazes
around the unyielding roots of things,
to end in a bunker the size of a two-car garage.