Pruning the Agaves


A comet of freeze slams our backyard white—


shuts ants in their tunnels, locks bile

in the ducts, blocks with ice her portal vein


makes succulents messy puppets

stretched yellow against the snow.


Before the freeze their heads were fierce spires

with time to hoist their cymes of yellow flowers.


Now she’s hoarse with shrieking, I hear her

between the blows of my shovel, into the rot


I slosh my blade, she fades, is that

our phone ringing? is it Houston? do they


have a liver? is the jet on the way?

I keep hauling agaves to the dumpster,


they smell of tequila and vomit, yellow ooze

stains my gloves. Suzanne stalls on the threshold,


says, spring is coming, but it’s not to us

the promise of spring is made.


This poem was originally published in Staley’s debut collection Lost On My Own Street.


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