Journal of Writing & Environment

Your oldest friend John uses rock slabs dredged from the earth

to wall off his girl’s new herb garden. Goddamn it if we can

get more out of it than this, he says, rubbing the dirt from his hands.


Crooked walls swerve and lean around New England,

rock layers lifted from the ground with fists and spades and mules.

At the edge of the sloping yard, herbs creep from the garden bed


like loose threads frayed from granite, the roots preened sweet.

I reach for the basil leaves, never touching them. You and John drag

two separate ways on the same cigarette, the light from the porch


framing your bodies — or is that the smoke, hanging there to hold

everything still? In the kitchen you flirt with a dial on the radio,

both eyes closed. John could tell you some stories, you say again.


I keep my own stories about you — like the one last summer,

that weekend with someone else, a cottage sagging on stilts

over the bight. These shadows we cast harden beneath our feet.


Four card games, six beers later, John closes and locks the door.

Upstairs waits another bed. The smoke follows us inside,

the earth’s musk. Below us, a rock wall waiting to be built.