“Tending the Grass” by Marissa McNamara

Marissa McNamara


When my husband goes out to water the lawn
cigarette dangling from his mouth and shirtless
I’m afraid that the police will show up
and arrest him since the only white guys I see
caught on “Cops” are tattooed (like my husband)
although usually they have homemade tattoos
which have to be fuzzed out
because they say things like fuck you which,
of course, is too many letters for one hand, one letter
per finger, so you might as well write fuck
on one forearm and you on the other so when
you stand with your hands at your sides,
you can relay a message and this
usually under the name Shirley or Tina
with a heart and maybe a crooked
arrow and shirtless, like I said, or at the very least
wearing a white tank top otherwise known as
a wife-beater, which my husband is not, but nonetheless
they, the cops, might drive by and see that he is
watering even though there is a ban during the summer
because of the drought and then throw him, shirtless,
over the side of the car while he yells something stupid
like “Please just don’t look in that small box
in my living room the one stacked on top of my
Grateful Dead tapes, just please don’t look there.”
At which point they would have to come in and look
and with my luck I’d be bra-less and barefoot drinking
a can of Schlitz and have to tell the cops that my husband
wasn’t doing anything wrong, I swear, there’s no box
in the living room, but if there was,
it’s our right to have it anyway.

from Rattle #24, Winter 2005


Marissa McNamara: “I am an English teacher in a two-year college in Atlanta, Georgia. I work with students who do not understand or appreciate the importance and power of words. I work to convince them that words, as poems or songs or essays, can be powerful. I write poetry because I need to convince myself that I am real. I write poetry because I want to convince others that they are real too.”

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