The Weeder

 ††††††††††††††††† Tom Sheehan


The azaleaís been drab

since the year I scissored it

and carried off wild loose laces

in the wheelbarrow.


The single maple tree,

double-trunked, porched, split-

leveled by a house without basement,

keeps a squirrel out of sight.


Bluejays, in the high rushes

of its limbs, careen all daylight

while my grandfather knobs at weeds

with thumbed fingers, knuckled joints.


When he kneels, patella prismed

with near-orange pain, unsure of rising

again, the jays jangling his ears,

he pretends he does not


see me seeing him. His gray

felt hatís worn like a half-mast

pennant, his ankle-highs elaborate of cow

and a matter of tanning bark.


He is unsure of weed or flower,

and clears space because it is space,

a neatness that, after all, will grow again

no matter how he treats it.


I have seen other old men,

cleaning bricks, sweeping walks,

carving wood into nothing, just to keep

old hands moving in daylight.


He posts the sun high over house,

narrows it into noon, marks for boiled

potato and a single shot of rye as brown

as his belt. Heís faithful as time.


When he looks at me, itís never

sidelong or indirect, he speaks not of weather,

never asks what hour it is. He hears the lonely

loon, the frog bloating, the sun hiss.



Tom Sheehan's 13th book, Brief Cases, Short Spans, was released November 2008 by Press 53. Pocol Press will issue his next book, From the Quickening, in the spring of 2009. He has 10 Pushcart nominations and 50 short stories in Rope and Wire Magazine.