William Lawerence Betz


…and passengers ask the conductor;
            What place is this?
            Where are we now?
                                                -Carl Sandburg 1918


The calming, dampening smell of mowed grass
meanders with the evening down our street. 

The whining whiz of the weed eater’s twine buzzes
and clatters against the clapboards of the tool shed
as I put the finishing touches on my yard, edge the walk to the pool
and return potted flowers to their places now neatly trimmed. 

Earlier, had been along day for everyone, with the attacks
shaking those of us miles from the east coast, from New York City, Washington DC,
Pennsylvania awake this morning with a terrible start. 

I sat for the first few hours trying to finish my soggy bowl of corn flakes
unable to look away from the constant breaking news and desperate updates. 

Then the first tower fell. 

110 plus stories came crashing to the pavement in a mushrooming,
enveloping cloud of choking dust and I knew there would be more
terrible stories to come before the second tower fell. 

This exhausted me. 

Finally, I thought, I need to get my yard done but this,
this thought made me feel guilty, callused, for a moment un-American.
People dead, dying, missing, crying and I sit in Arkansas or Nebraska
or California or anywhere concerned about my damn lawn. 

So I turned the TV down but not off.  

Stepping out into the yard the landscape has changed to a strange new skyline.
I am relived to hear that the neighborhood, that America
is still alive, dogs still bark beyond my fence, cars slowly roll past. 

The drivers and I, edger in hand, exchange quick looks into one another’s eyes
reaffirming to each other as we pass that we are aware of what has happened
as much as we are unclear as what to do next. 

Heads poke over the hedge needing attention as the giggling kids next door bounce
on their trampoline and I begin to hear the hum of other mowers, Murrays, Craftsmen,
John Deeres starting up and I know that I am now mowing alone this evening.


The grass needs cutting and it will grow and need to be cut again
before summer slumbers for the winter. 

It’s only September. 

Life goes on sometimes slowly. 

We will survive and I am reminded for some reason of the lines
            “I am grass.
             Let me work.” 



(photo by August)