by Wilmer Mills

All afternoon I walk behind the mower,
Imagining, though paradoxically,
That even though the grass is getting lower,
What I have cut is like a rising sea;
The parts I haven’t cut, with every pass,
Resemble real geography, a map,
A shrinking island continent of grass
Where shoreline vanishes with every lap.

At last, the noise and smell of gasoline
Dispel my dream. What sea? Peninsulas?
They were the lands my inner child had seen,
Their little Yucatáns and Floridas.

But when I’m finished, and Yard goes back to Lawn,
I can’t help thinking that a world is gone.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2013).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The son of agricultural missionaries, poet Wilmer Mills (b.1969) grew up in Brazil and Louisiana. Mills earned both a BA and MA in theology from the University of the South, and worked at a variety of jobs during his life including carpenter, sawmill operator, baker, farmer, and whitewater raft guide. He also served as the Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Acclaimed as a careful practitioner of form and meter, Mills received praise for the dramatic monologues of his first book, Light for the Orphans (2002). His poems were published in various journals, including New Criterion, Poetry, New Republic, Hudson Review, and Shenandoah. With his wife and two children, Mills lived and worked in Sewanee, Tennessee, in a house he built himself. He died in 2011. (Source: