A Couple in the Hill Country

Dwight Gray

waits for day break, sipping coffee.

The end of the rainy season,

water’s standing in the garden

but has begun its recession.

Still, there’s enough to reflect the sky

at six a.m. Sun hasn’t shown

its face, but the evidence

appears in a shimmering pool.

The husband shuffles across

a dirty tile floor as if navigating

a minefield of what he cannot see.

He cracks the window, humid late

Spring air and birdsong

burst through the weakness in his defense.

A neighbor’s truck engine coughs

itself to life, then growls,

more protest than warning.

The wife wades barefoot through

the backyard marsh.

Squash, blackberries, peppers, tomatoes

all in bloom. No bees.

A voice on the radio said the freeze,

just six weeks ago, took

what pesticides had not.

An artist, she takes her finest

brush, painting pollen, from bloom to bloom.

They do what being

a citizen in this place requires.

He pours two cups of coffee,

listens to a song he can’t quite place

that’s coming from the live oak tree,

joins his wife at the garden’s edge

hands one cup to her.

They watch steam rise, watch it get lost

in the morning light,

one of so many things they’ve been able

to keep by letting go.

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