by Kathleen Graber
America, I know I could do better by you,
though I stoop conscientiously three times a day
to pick up my dog’s waste from the grass
with black biodegradable bags. And lest you suspect
that this is more pretension than allegiance, know
my dog was the one at the shelter no one else
would take. He is fat & lazy & I could do better
by him as well, though I do not know if a long walk
in the park in 97-degree heat is a good idea.
Please cue a Presidential sound bite to reassure me
all hearts are more resilient than I think. I confess
it would have been a moral error to have embraced him
if I did not have the means to keep him fed. But
I am writing tonight because there is something wrong
with your peaches. The ones from the supermarket
are so soft & cheap—half the cost of the ones
sold at the local farm—but the flesh near the pit
is so bitter & green. It is a fruit like the mind
we are making together: both overripe & immature.
Trust me, I still have the simple tastes you gave me:
I am delighted by the common robins & cardinals,
the way they set the trees at dusk aflame. Thank you
for Tuesday’s reliable trash collection. If you are
constellated somehow, a little bit inside
each of your people, I am sorry that there is more
& more of you lately I do not understand.
Sometimes I want simply to sit alone a long time
in silence. America, you must want this too.
“America (Peaches),” from THE RIVER TWICE (forthcoming, Sept. 2019) by Kathleen Graber. Copyright © 2019 by Kathleen Graber. Used by permission of Princeton University Press.