Mowing My Lawn on the Fifth of July

I woke up this morning
with three songs in my head.
They keep coming and going.
I headed outside early
to beat the heat of the day.
The sun is still hanging
low in the east.
Most of the yard
is still covered in shade.
There is a faint smell of sulfur in the air,
underneath the stronger scent of
hamburgers and hot dogs.
I pour gas into the mower.
Pump the primer.
Pull the cord.
It never starts on the first pull.
But if I’m very lucky
the second time is the charm.
And today, I’m lucky.

🎶‘Once there was this girl who
wouldn’t go and change with the girls in the change room
But when they finally made her
they saw birthmarks all over her body.

She couldn’t quite explain it.
They’d always just been there.’

As I walk along
I have to push the mower with much force,
or hold it back with much restraint,
because my entire yard is an incline.
And a decline.
I have to stop in my tracks
To move the garden hose
To move the lawn chairs
To move some stones.
I do it all one handed
so the mower won’t stop running.
I strain to hear a sound
over the roar of the old machine.
The screeches of a crow?
Or a blue jay?
I wonder if there is a stray cat in the yard.

🎶‘You take the good,
you take the bad,
you take them both
and there you have
the facts of life.
The facts of life.’

Yesterday we all celebrated together,
but separately.
Some of us celebrated family, friendship, and freedom.
Some of us celebrated a day off.
Some of us celebrated the pure privilege
Of being able to drink all our cares away.
Some of us even celebrated a victory for England.
And some of us celebrated our country,
I guess.
There were fireworks…

Suddenly I hear the sound
of something solid
hitting against the metal blade,
and all at once
a stone snaps up into my shin.
Pain surges for just a moment
at the site of impact and then
begins to spread and dissipate.
I must not have been paying close enough attention.
I was distracted by the song in my head.

🎶‘This is how it feels to be lonely.
This is how it feels to be small.
This is how it feels
when your world means nothing at all’

As I wheel the mower back into the garage
a barbecue scented breeze blows by.
The neighborhood is quiet.
Everyone is either at work
or taking refuge in air conditioned comfort.
I am covered in sweat and grass clippings.
There is a red splotch on my leg.
The sun is much higher in the sky.
The heat of the day is about to set in.
I am so thirsty.
It is the fifth of July.

🎶‘Mmm mmm mmm mmm’🎶


The songs

Mmm mmm mmm by the Crash Test Dummies

The Facts of Life theme song by Gloria Loring

This is How it Feels by Inspiral Carpets


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