If you snap the branch of a pine tree, it never grows back. So I worry about that as they climb the neighbor’s evergreen, hurling airplanes at his daffodils. With heavy shovels, I till the garden. Each shoulder swivel, twist and heave aches. Our neighbor stops tending his bees, asks the boys to leave, to retrieve their styrofoam wings, edges dipped like petals. Trading flight for spades, digging hard packed clay for fossils, dead remains. Singing, flinging dirt over the gate, making up a chorus, painting over pine branches in rough-hewn brushstrokes like Gauguin. Flat lands blasted with violent color, untamed and pure, everything else sacrificed. Never cleaning the palette, just mixing fresh hues on top of what is already dried.
Matthew Miller teaches social studies, swings tennis rackets, and writes poetry – all hoping to create a home. He lives beside a dilapidating apple orchard in Indiana, and tries to shape the dead trees into playhouses for his four boys. His poetry has been published in The Flying Island, PAN-O-PLY and Your Daily Poem.