Poem: "Priscilla, Mowing" by Pamela Harrison
She wasn’t stupid. And you couldn’t call her lazy,
mowing her own yard after hours of dead-heading
her flower beds for fall. Having gotten a good way
into her seventh decade, she tired more easily and
was increasingly forgetful—that missing tea towel
found in the fridge. Now, as when she’d set out
to make a life, she believed her death would prove
an amalgam of character and luck. She was fairly sure
she wouldn’t be afraid. In fact, death’s ready presence
lent a luster to living. There was just so much
to think and do. And—now to be sure—
so many fewer days in which to do it.
She was thinking just these thoughts, peering
into the middle distance of her own contentment
and mowing the scalloped edge of her perennial border,
when she glimpsed the red, newly-taped handle
of the sickle she used to cut the clumps of lady’s mantle--
the freshly sharpened tool she had failed to put away—lying
on the grass the mower in that instant drove right over.
Then it happened so fast.
She heard first the wooden handle thunk
against the spinning mower blade, saw broken chunks
of raw blond wood fly out ahead as the blue crescent
of steel sprang like a boomerang from beneath the machine,
lifting toward her so quickly all she had time to do
was embrace the iron that so cleanly cut her throat.
Her mouth opened to say something, but the mower
plowed noisily on ahead, shaving clear through
her asters and rue and coming at last to rest
against the stalks of autumn monkshood
whose purple heads nodding above golden leaves
had always seemed to her the perfect end to fall.
Pamela Harrison reads "Priscilla, Mowing"