There’s the made-for-TV scene
when the cancer patient shaves her head
instead of waiting for chemotherapy
to suck the fallout in its mouth.
This is not a coming to terms. My hair
is coarse. So are the weeds.
So is the jute rug under my feet.
No, the rug is fine sand faded
in summer months. The weeds
need pulling. This is true
of any garden. Weeds like milk
teeth. Weeds like gray hair.
I dress the scarecrow in an ex-lover’s
shirt. Every few days I move him
to a different place. The effigy
is warm against my lips. I sing
to the side of his face: where the ear
would be. Crows haunt telephone
wire. A Hollywood actor tells the reporter
she only had one take to get it right—it was,
after all, her real hair. By now the weeds
are the color of elegy. And so is the basil.
So are the wetlands and the hickory’s
leaves. Verdant as the paisley
on the scarecrow’s shirt
and as what I sing in the wake
of its ear. Refrain scorches the fields,
and the rosewood barn that never was.
I don’t even have a yard.
On my windowsill, there’s a pigeon
the color of smoke. It wears a streak
of iridescence and the secret of navigation.
I remember the home we could have made—
how to get there—even as I line the sill
with flecks of bread and a message
to myself for tomorrow. Even as the weeds,
shaken, make the sound of pebbles
falling out of a shoe. Or rain.
Or the shovel’s last dirt on the grave.
It sounds like the tearing of cloth
when roots are pulled. When my friend’s
mother walked toward me, she looked
unearthly: skin more red, head small,
clothes loose. I tried to hold the smile
on my face. That was November.
That was my eleventh grief. In winter,
I don’t bother the scarecrow. Birds
peck at its threaded mouth.