Written by Preston Nanney

1-013Grassy Fields

“Jido Smile” by Neal Singleton

A garden is rolling down the street
Plastic bags blossoming from soiled cardboard
Vines of tape and rope incubating
In a seedbed of Styrofoam nuts —
The afterbirth of a world she reared,
This gardener behind her pushcart

Like a wind battered tree she leans
Over her disjointed legs and
Into the rusty tumbrel, the whinnying wheels of which
Drown the click of her steps,
Hide the tick of the seconds and the minutes marked
By this timekeeper behind her pushcart

Her overgrowth of refuse groans to our bus stop
As the timetable tolls for the 705
It’s all zippers and snaps and straps and
Commuters bracing, standing raptly at the curb
A specious ovation for
The old lady and her pushcart

With a shriek of axles and brake pads
The bus lurches to a stop behind her
It howls in righteous disdain
For her stoppage in the right lane
To say there is no room in the margin
For this planter and her pushcart

She does not hasten
She does not look back
But somnambulates ahead and
Turns instead to look at me
Among the vesper glow of handheld screens
Under a Plexiglas canopy

Me, herald of the west and young
Sowing an unknown language on her ground
She, sunk eyed watcher, leather handed grower
With her tree bark face and harrow gait
The forgotten forebear of this new world
This gardener behind her pushcart


Preston Nanney is a 2013-2014 ETA at Jeonmin Middle School in Daejeon.