Elegy for My Childhood Home Ending in the Sound of a Lawnmower

by Samantha Leon

All I see is freshly cut grass rounding over the slightest of hills.

I lost my virginity in broad daylight on an August day,

listening to the sounds of our lawnmower crash against the corners of the house,

disappearing and amplifying, in a cycle of crescendos and decrescendos
all along the length of our side yard.

When the old machine grumbled to a halt, so did we.

It was the only way that we could tell, from my room above the garage,
if we were alone.


This poem could also be titled Portrait of My Mother as an Artist,
as I understand now, looking at the unkempt grasses and the filth,

that she’d used line, pattern and light to birth shape,
to whittle away at the eye’s understanding of the terrain.

All I see are endings.


I’m trespassing. The bank has long since taken our little brown house,

perched atop its own tiny hill, a type of castle in this Pennsylvania valley.

The only thing to see beyond the trees closing in above
is sky of unknown edges. 

I push open the crooked gate
after stepping over a dead bird and a Pabst Blue Ribbon can,

nestled into the once-manicured lawn like a terrible Easter egg
in a basket full of iridescent plastic grass.


I know what the water looks like neglected.

Reflections of godlike-orange trees in the puddles on the pool cover
create clean triples, quadruples.

I know its truth: green algae glowing underneath the masked surface
and probably more dead animals.

I used to imagine there was something wild beyond those trees,
but I know now there are just more little brown houses

filled with people thinking about their little brown houses,

maybe two lovers listening to the growl of a lawnmower,
using its ugly snarl to time their hands.

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