To Yorick, in the Garden

Rob Shapiro
| poetry


Shear back

the thorns, the thistles, the body


of rosebushes growing along the fence line.

Summer will not give


and the dog is digging up

rows of beds,


drought-driven and bare.


We have it backwards: tragedy

plus time is just as tragic still


and presses down

with the weight of heaven.


Blades glow like wings

cut from iron;


stillness grows in trees, in blood.


Each afternoon is a grave

so we do what we can to fill them:


hoe back the brush and rake the furrows clean,

watch the dog bury what’s his—


dead bird or antler tip—


and see how easily the earth takes

what it’s given.

Rob Shapiro received an MFA from the University of Virginia, where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. His work has previously appeared in The Southern Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Blackbird, and River Styx, among other journals. He lives in Charlottesville, VA.

Patria Potestas
Elegy of Color