Vegetation Blues

Someone tore a square out of the sidewalk
and planted a ginkgo, tamped a few bricks flat
with the butt of a spade, the small shoot
seeming to rise up from the cement.
Years later, see how the roots have broken
the backs of the bricks, lifted them, starting
the process of eviction. Inside the cove
of a traffic signal starlings have built a nest,
dead weeds and fluffs of cotton
hanging from the lip. They’ve chosen the yellow light
for its intermittent warmth. We’ve discovered
vaccines for a thousand diseases, distilled oil
from the olive, found a use for bat guano.
We’ve reassembled the bones of a pterodactyl
then sewn to its pinioned wings a delicate
life-like shroud. Landed a man on the moon.
And still we can’t keep the wild mustard
and dandelion from springing up through
the cracks, the trees from dropping their cones
on the roof, dead leaves clogging the gutters.
We hack and clip, slash, burn and they curl
up from the ashes, baby ferns unfurling, poison
ivy and oak. The lush tough grasses reseed
and take over while we sit on the couch
bent to a book and mice nurse their young
in the attic, tonguing open each pair
of tiny sealed eyes, while thirty roses
press their faces against the window
trying to charm their way in.

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