Susan Mitchell

(1944 / New York)

Tent Caterpillars

for Nathaniel, 1900—1968
All afternoon you worked at cutting them down.
Branch after branch tossed
into the heap. You had your ceremony. Old pants. The pipe.
The pipe rested in the cleft of the tree.
When the pile got big enough, you threw the kerosene.

Now the woods are clouded again. You forgot
the world could be this messy.

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