Summer’s on the wane; but weeds, knowing no season,
proliferate under the gum tree; they spread along
the sides of the ramshackle shed and the periphery

of our foundation. Joel, the guy who edges our front
lawn and trims the grass, volunteered to nuke ’em
next time they’re in the neighborhood. I know

Roundup is one of the chemical cocktails red-flagged
as carcinogenic. My husband won’t keep those chunky
plastic jugs anywhere near the house. I read

that a mixture of plain vinegar and water will do
the trick—I know after misting the leaves
of basil in a pot on the deck, the slugs

have generally left it alone. Whenever I’ve used
some foaming Chlorox on a rag to rub away some
deeply ingrained stain or mildewed spot on kitchen

sink or tile, my hands have itched and the skin
at the base of my fingers has blistered. Nuke,
he said; I keep coming back to that— how

after all the precautions we take to keep
the smallest square of our native soil free
of contaminants, our efforts won’t prevail.

Only the roaches might know, with their
impenetrable bronze shells; the dragonflies
raising their netted flags in the air,

or spiders building and tearing down then
building again, what balance there could ever
be, between our imagined industry and futility.


In response to Via Negativa: Talismanic.

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