Sweet Spot

We wore shorts with stains the color

of the popsicles we’d eaten,

sitting on the cross-timber fence.

Careless blobs on khaki canvas,

turning sticky black in the sun,

sticky fingers looking for a clean place

to wipe.

Patches still sprouted in the backyard,

dark green teepees of grass

where Clyde, our recently disappeared

basset hound, whose claim

on a meaningful life

was leavening the garage-side lawn,

in the shadiest spots

with raw material

for dark green teepees.

And so he is gone.

The emerald pyramids

in the shade of the willow

testify to his destiny reached.

The leaning garage

was not leaning so much as 

to be threatening,

but enough that you noticed it

and walked around the back 

to see if it leaned

in both directions

or just toward the front.


And crumbling some at the corner

of the concrete pad.

Irony is not the word

that describes the mystery

of why gravel, meant for the ground,

so visibly urges a scoop, a heft,

a swing of the elbow, 

a glance around

to find 

a target.

Even now, so many years later,

I can’t think of the word

that enters the mind of a boy

standing in the driveway

with a handful of gravel

looking at the new family car

in the leaning garage.

A Buick LeSabre, two years old,

twenty thousand miles–the sweet spot

where the value has dropped

but the newness is almost

fully intact.

Perfect condition, washed

and prepped by Bob Johnson himself.

He usually had his dealership boys do it,

but for a friend he did it himself.

Spread out,

it looked like more dust than rock.

The sound of it hitting the trunk lid 

was more rock than dust.

Or perhaps that the rock was more 


than the dust.

Significant now,

not one second ago

when the cool gravel tickled 

to go up and away, anywhere,

anywhere in the yard,

the alley, the driveway;

anywhere but back down to the ground

where, not ironically,

it belonged.

Instant regret could not 

put the gravel in the yard,

the alley, the driveway,

back down to the ground.

Wildly brushing the rocks and dust

across the shining, fresh-waxed,

proud new purchase

cut scratches even deeper,

more profuse, 

and permanent.

No emerald green pyramid

grew to mark my impulse,

my early claim on a meaningful life.

But my destiny was set out

to be reached.