They leave metal edges on the insides of lawn mower engines sharp.
Pull cord broke. Spool fell out tucked under Honda’s little black-painted hood,
and a whole coil of flat tense sharp and hard came undone.
It was rewrapping this infuriatingly functional component,
rewinding that winding coil up tight and small,
when an as sharp as a kitchen blade metal dove deep into the white cartilage
of my middle finger knuckle. Held that arm up above my head, to God,
to balance, to the stonewall all the tools were not neatly strewn out on.
Waiting like a child for discomfort to pass, for some parent
to sweep down like a miracle and make a distraction.
Four hours in on an eight hour work day,
and that hand must keep going, gripping,
pulling handled cords and squeezing plastic gas mixture powered triggers,
arriving home to a large-udder goat, counting on the milking
she’s been getting each afternoon, and soon, rather than later,
one handed the impatient beast, took twice as long, more time gone,
and a yard still full of soft stalk moss-dotted grass needed to be worked on,
and, about fifteen dibby birds too young to know to put their value up at night.
Never seen a raccoon’s leftovers of her majesty plucked alive, eaten raw,
from the crown to scaly yellow legs and red, white down scattered all over.
A little Rhode Island Red beat her wings just the right way.
Scratched her twiggy claws and must have flipped that whole slice
of wrinkled skin on my knuckle back, because every other bird
I touched that night has blood on its feathers.
In a few weeks though, each one will receive her opportunity
to repay the favor. To show their truest color.
And we will have stained one another
with a crimson that lasts forever.