In Los Angeles, February changes
everything. Rain makes the roads go
slick with forgotten emissions, pulls
swollen doors away from their hinges,
so that going commences in struggle, and coming
only with a shoulder to the doorjamb.
Wood splits, splinters. This year
it saturated a thick veil of ivy, pushed
it down, a brown wave cresting
on the ground, tangles of vine and root.
Above: the wall stood exposed,
bleached skeleton, its skin
draped at its feet. Below: deep green
leaves pressed down under the weight
of their own vegetable growth. It was nothing
to stop for, nothing to slow traffic,
another curiosity, like the house a few
blocks east, where replicas of Michaelangelo’s
David lined the circular driveway, resisted
originality, resisted attack,
and still at rest for all that, slingshots limp
against their backs, they stared into a victory
no less true for being unseen, into the middle
distance above the body, the giant head
felled by a pebble, like a boxer thrown
backward through the air, body arcing
horizontal, then the fall, and in a nod
to physics, a small bounce
before coming to rest. And when he doesn’t
move, mechanical twitches where life had been.
How hard a body fights to retain
motion, how it outlives its imperfect,
impermanent host—hair, fingernails,
teeming cells deny the end, skin still
sloughing off, ready for the next round.
Three days later the ground was clear,
the wall rose straight from the well-tended grass,
thin tendrils snaking its height, clinging for dear life.