“Landscaping” by Michele Battiste

Michele Battiste


Ex-boyfriends appear like daffodils
after a slow and stuttering melt. Last
autumn squirrels dug up bulbs, ran off
and buried them in places you’d never
expect to find a fragile boast of spring.

I’ve forgiven myself for not being much
of a gardener, resenting the maintenance
of dirt, but when I spot errant blooms by
the yield sign at the curb or beneath the dying
oak that, I swear, this season I will put out
of its misery, I admit, this is not what I

                        You’d think I wouldn’t be wounded,
thirty one and not all that good at monogamy,
crossing paths with the ones who strayed.
Greg, outside of Philly, looking like Ed Norton
seven years after the final scene. Mark,
in my doorway, asking for a place to crash
on his way to the city where he left me.

hard not to confuse my affection for them now
with my desperate, perfected love for who I was
then. Hard, not to want to dig beneath roots,
lift them up, claim them. The daffodil beneath
the oak is ridiculous. I have a spade. The earth
has softened.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004

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