You are reading Fiddleblack #5
The hot hum pours through the streets, weed whackers in the morning
cicadas and peepers at night the whirr of central air always
the tiger lilies bowed into the road by it, the houses shiver
against heat’s heavy hands and dare not sweat
under a new coat of vinyl, a thick and scratchy uniform.
How slick it all looks, the April burst of life corralled at last—
the gardens riot quietly, but they too have been plucked
and primped into submission. Beauty queens.
signs—Vinyl King, Land by Larry Zacks—advertise this handiwork
while my neighbor’s statues advertise for the Catholic Church,
St. Francis of Assisi’s white face beatific as the new siding on the house.
He bows, as if to honor the viewer or the birds perched forever
on his arm. But I know what lies under
those robes. That whitewashed saint
was placed by a boy I wanted to wriggle into. Now he’s a priest.
His younger brother teased me about the rusty streaks
in my underwear, the same color as the cedar chips
that mark the boundaries between lawns
like bloody trenches marked tiny nations across the forests of France.
St. Francis loved France, thus the name—Francesco, like the frescos
later made in his honor. He too rebelled against the intoxication of fabrics
his father would have hated
Giotto’s rich and tilting biography, pigment in plaster for eternity,
the buildings as clean and isolated from their wild surroundings
as the houses on my street, which stand offish and awfully
to themselves, offended by the dark heart of the woods and not a little afraid.
Bridget Menasche grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley. She went on to work along the Hudson River. After a few summers on the water, the surrounding landscape elbowed its way into her poetry.