Country Home in City Limits


Hedge of high sumac that fences the yard
May you be fetid by spring from poor keeping,
And blackberry bramble be fruitless and hard
As the hothouse in winter whose features are weeping.

I’ll keep it well hidden with ivy and sedge
And river birch leaning like so many lanterns.
The chickens will dawdle, all itchy from midge—
They’ll dance in the daylight and frisk in their pattern.

Boxed between fences, a full dozen ferns
The drowse of the poplars that hang in midseason.
Swarm of the chickadee, sweep of the tern—
The arc of the grebe gives a figure for reason,

But this yard’s a gap in the street-grid and logic
Of neighboring lawns of sorrier bastards
Whose rosebeds are sturdy and sycamores tragic—
A yard in revolt is the yard that I’ve mastered.

But house centers yard and steers the yard’s orbit
As house holds its court and figures the range
Of where things will go, the too-much they’ve weathered.
O unmastered garden, you’ll grow, and you’ll change.

Spencer Hupp is a poet and critic from Little Rock, Arkansas. He lives in Tennessee, where he serves as an Assistant Editor for The Sewanee Review. He has work forthcoming in The New Criterion and The Hopkins Review.