My mother wrestles with the stakes
and I with her, with the tomato vines
caught in our decades-old wires.
Their stalks threaten to split
as the wires (reused, warping) tangle.
And we blame everything— the heat,
the mosquitoes bearing some new,
life-threatening disease—for our hot-
headedness. Apologize over cool drinks
later. It’s like this every year.

Always, a plant’s already fallen
past repair. Oh well, I think. Still time,
says my mother, who built the fence
and the raised bed, planted because
something should be alive each year
while we die back. Alive beyond what
we can tend, though we tend it—
rather, my mother does, without saying
if she regrets having children.

She doesn’t regret it. Although at twenty-nine
she thought it would be criminal
to bring me here to fall
into a trench of poisonous headlines,
or out of love, or to fall prey, or
asleep at the wheel while she is teaching me
to drive the dawn.

Sarah Green, the author of Earth Science and the editor of Welcome to the Neighborhood: An Anthology of American Coexistence, is currently at work on her second poetry collection.

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