Taking Stock After a Hard Dayís Work in the Yard

James W. Torke


No one knows this lot as I do.

Every hillock, every declivity.

Each slope, flat, and terrace

I know with my feet, knees, and hands.

There is no portion I havenít trod and taken the measure of.

Iím a scholar of each square foot.


For I built it up.I mowed it

diagonally, crosscut on a grid,

or spiraling to the center.

I police the pavement cracks,

pit my resolve against the

thready grass and brazen weeds.

The asphalt is coal black

because I sealed it.

Iíve sunk posts, fenced the borders, hung gates,

dug and wrestled great rootballs in and out,

moved planted, and nursed trees and flowers,

cut and shaped the bushes,

sloped and smoothed the contours,

raised walls, swept and shoveled the walk,

raked, piled and bagged the golden leaves.


I worry about the rain:

sudden swamps, eroding slopes;

about drought:baked, cracked earth,

crispy tan grass;

early frost, late spring.

I fight the weathermagic.

I pay the price.


Letís be honest, now.

I may suffer the rodents and birds Ė

the squirrels hasten through,

the birds alight and go,

and the chipmunks dart and vanish.

Let them enjoy the earth,

the land is mine.

They hold puny easements,

and they know it.

See how they scatter when I come.

They donít know what property is.

Fee simple.Absolute.



James W. Torke is an emeritus Professor of Law who taught for many years at Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis. While he has had a life-long interest in poetry, this is his first published poem.