Why We're Here


Before we can properly excuse ourselves,
I am sitting in the shade under the oak tree
talking about farming with the old man,
and my wife is out among the flowers
with his wife. I know nothing about farming,
but the words fall effortlessly from my mouth.
My wife comes back holding an iris clipping,
and they join us in the shade with the flies.
We are suddenly members of the family,
rocking and swatting. We talk about things
as though we had waited all winter long
for the snow to melt. A bluebird
flies into the box on the fencepost
as we talk, and a rabbit hops lethargically
across the driveway down by the car
where I left the mower I brought
to be sharpened. That's why we're here.

He is the last man in the county
who can sharpen a push mower.
And he is not easy to find. And,
he takes his time. We have found him, though,
and he is taking most of the afternoon
to tell us he thinks he can do it
and for how much. We shake on it.
I am getting my mower sharpened
by first having my flaked faith in the ways of people
touched up and my disinclination to old age
abated. It is costing me eight dollars.


Roger Mitchell, Lemon Peeled the Moment Before: New & Selected Poems 1967-2008, Ausable Press, 2008.