It isn’t that I see them human,
these yellowjackets dying in the trap,
or compare the size of brains,
or say that there are other lives
(if there are other lives
as some monks believe),
or claim no wasp will ever cry for me —
none will ever miscount,
regret a dull
But only absolute sadness
in a piece of plastic
hanging from a beam,
the circles they trace on its wall
in the town’s first frost
a million miles from purpose.
It’s just the fact of it is wrong
and nothing else.
I walk our kitchen scraps to the compost pile:
ragged red-leaf lettuce, long English cucumbers
forgotten at the back of the fridge
moist, soft as sponge.
The flu is going around.
I had congratulated myself that I escaped it,
that others were more mortal,
but it has hit me hard.
I glower: neanderthal, punished
and miss a step on the deer trail,
slipping on the rock.
It strikes me that this vegetable box full of earth
tucked away behind the woodshop
(overflowing now — too cold and too dry to decompose)
is the most important thing I own:
a memento mori masquerading as gardening.
There will be a time
when my body, too, will stop working,
when it will break down,
become a part of the cottonwood,
animate the catnip and the chokecherry
feed the mule deer in spring
take its place on the Hogback —
On the compost pile /
like my own hands
the cucumbers are familiar and strange.
I grab the haying fork,
mix them in,
and forget again.