In Our Backyard

… a tentative title… and, as all poems go with April PAD, a work in progress. It was time for a poem about my brothers 🙂

In Our Backyard

In our backyard, we were always digging.
We needed to practice the art
of going deeper, how best to slant
the shovel, step, jump – open up the earth,
dump and sift larger granules for finer grains

of sand. We used the tools of our father –
placed our child-sized hands on the back
of dump trucks and crawled, knees
soaking up damp sand. It was important
to be close to the ground.

Mountains moved in our backyard
as we built castles, buried Matchbox cars,
redirected rivers with the water
from our garden hose, our landscape
slowly eroding down into the valley.

We excavated sea floor fossils
from limestone in the driveway,
gathered up bones, stacked each stone –
miniature monuments to our family’s
land, quarrel, eternal sweat.

Excavating runs in blood –
it is all the same trade, really –
one brother digs holes to unearth
impossible boulders, negotiate roots,
measure depth and drainage.

The other takes what is broken,
welds it together, knows metal
is stronger at the point of fracture,
shapes steel into custom framework.
We grow out of the same tilled soil;

we are trying to give order to chaos,
make sense of brokenness, create
something from the ground beneath us,
exhume the passions of a childhood
buried in a backyard sandbox.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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