(Poem #1407) The Man into Whose Yard You Should Not Hit Your Ball
each day mowed and mowed his lawn, his dry quarter-acre, the machine slicing a wisp from each blade's tip. Dust storms rose around the roar, 6 p.m. every day, spring, summer, fall. If he could mow the snow he would. On one side, his neighbors the cows turned their backs to him and did what they do to the grass. Where he worked, I don't know, but it set his jaw to: tight. His wife a cipher, shoebox tissue, a shattered apron. As if into her head he drove a wedge of shale. Years later, his daughter goes to jail. Mow, mow, mow his lawn gently down a decade's summers. On his other side lived mine and me, across a narrow pasture, often fallow -- a field of fly balls, the best part of childhood and baseball. But if a ball crossed his line, as one did in 1956, and another in 1958, it came back coleslaw -- his lawnmower ate it up, happy to cut something, no matter what the manual said about foreign objects, stones, or sticks.
From the minute I read the title of today's poem, I knew I was going to enjoy it. "The Man into whose Yard you Should Not Hit Your Ball" - what child has not known one? It conjures up an instant image, an entire personality type summed in one short line. Nor did the rest of the poem disappoint. Despite a certain (unavoidable) predictability, I was captivated by the charm of the language, the almost-stream of conscious narrative tone, and above all, the sheer observation that sparkled in every line. I think my favourite touch was the "one did in 1956/ and another in 1958" - the incidents, probably no more than passing nuisances in the man's life, stamped indelibly across the narrator's boyhood and looming large in memory. Nicely wrapped up poem, too - when I read these stream-of-consciousness poems I always hold my breath a little, wondering if the poet will be up to the task of supplying an ending that both flows with and definitively closes the poem. Fortunately, Lux was, and the finished whole stands as a very satisfying experience. martin Biography: [broken link] http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=116