Colby Cotton


I have seen you bend the pear branch for clipping,
your wife press eggshell
into the rose bed, and have been envious
of the white grid of lattice that stands against

your porch steps, how the golden arch of pollen
falls through the cedars
and clings to your windows.
For you have shown me the lacquered deck,

pressure-treated lumber, the shellac, and tin
ceiling, how the PVC skeleton of plumbing sleeps
below the lawn, and I’d like to be like you,
but this suburb has found me jobless

again, pacing inside a sprinkler system
with my head to clear, when I cannot
so much as clear freezer burn off asparagus,
or cover cabbages in tattered blankets without feeling

weepy. I’m trying to be the clean, corporate type,
with an IPA sweating in my palm
at a brewery I love. I’m trying to understand the turn
of a razor along the stubble of my jawline—

for there is tenderness, I’ve found, in the dead rat
in the dustbin. The nest of bees still wet
with poison. Neighbor, I am full of doubt:
will the cat ever cease to stare long enough

at the sparrows to chase the fly crawling toward the sun
on the glass? How will the koi pond learn
to cover its face in ice
if the ground I’ve built around it is salt?

I have spent the night walking the neighborhood
feeling absurd,
picturing my face on a white cat,
and then an owl with its head turned backwards

in the sun. I have become what I detest:
the oak leaves choking on the pool filter,
the lawn mower turned to smoke in the yard—
the hard yellow bill of the robin knocking inside the engine.