“Weed Whacker” by Nancy Krygowski

Nancy Krygowski


Weed whackers do solve a problem, just like smacking
a two-year-old’s face makes him startle quiet for a second.
Smacking is a good thing to hate, but if you’re honest,
you understand the desire—then remember right is right.
On the bus, I watched a young mother playing Give Me Five
with her little boy, a smacking game. Later, he wanted something
he couldn’t have and smacked his mom’s breast. What happened
next. A weed’s roots weave close to the surface,
so when you pull them up, it’s like roads lifting off a map
and suddenly we go back centuries to when this country was new.
People tramped prairie grass and navigated with the sun.
And the roots of weeds can dig down deep, so deep
you spend hours on the ground, arm in the earth,
loosening and pulling. This small, deep killing feels good,
it feels right. I read about a six-year-old wandering the highway
while her mom was at work. She wanted Twinkies,
Twinkies from the store. There wasn’t a store for miles,
and there’s so much shit in them they’re barely food.
But she wanted spongy sweetness, wanted a glass of milk,
wanted a mom who has a way not to leave her at home alone
while she works. Whack rhymes with smack, and in some ways,
right rhymes with wrong. Forgive us, we say to our hands.

from Rattle #57, Fall 2017
Tribute to Rust Belt Poets

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Nancy Krygowski: “I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, where I came to consciousness as the steel mills closed and the downtown emptied and boarded itself up. I moved to New England (because, I thought, that’s where poets come from). Then San Francisco (again, poets). But those places were too easily, too obviously, beautiful—blue skies and candy colored houses, little bakeries with happy hippy-haired workers. I missed having to search for beauty, missed, also, how emptiness breeds, needs creation. So I came back—to buildings that still hold the mills’ smoke, to potholes and aproned church ladies who sell pierogis during Lent. This sensibility—how to find the beautiful in the grit, in the destruction—guides my writing.” (website)

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