Six weeks since I saw them cut
The grass. As I write these words
The sun comes out for the first time
Where we were. Six weeks since
I saw them cut the grass.
There was a man and a woman
With the shears. I saw them work
In silence but together
As I went past. There was a man
And a woman with the shears.
As I write these words the sun comes out
For the first time. They are gone now
And the grass grows again
Where we were. As I write these words
The sun comes out for the first time.
I saw them work in silence
But together. As I went past
A man and a woman cut
The grass. I saw them work
In silence but together.
They are gone now, the man
And the woman. I saw them cut
The grass that has grown again
Where we were. They are gone now,
The man and the woman.
First published in The Dark Horse 28, Winter / Spring 2012.
This intriguing and, to me, obscurely touching poem is an example of what can be done in the plainest language with the deft use of repetitions—and how poetry often communicates before it is understood. In the manner of one of the repeating forms, say, triolet or villanelle, the poet repeats the first sentence in every stanza as the last, but fascinatingly varies the tone by enjambing the repetition differently from when the sentence first occurs at the opening of the stanza. The sentences are inlaid into the stanzas like marquetry. The enigmatic ‘man and woman’ appear predominantly in the past tense, in contrast with the narrator in the act of writing, and the organic elements, the grass and the sun, which are in the present.In this context the poem’s title, too, forms a paradoxical contrasting combination of past and present in its commonplace phrase. The poem has an elegaic cast though it remains, certainly to this reader, finally mysterious. It is worth pointing out that the opening stanza consists entirely of monosyllables and, indeed the poem is generally monosyllabic, with the exception of three di-syllables, ‘woman,’ ‘silence’, and ‘again’, and one tri-syllable, ‘together’.