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Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1952

The back of the garage, dim, dusty,
was my father’s makeshift workshop,
a table set between the lawnmower
and the rakes, hoes, pitchfork.
One fall afternoon when I was seven,
I found him there, wearing
his gray and maroon wool jacket,
repairing a lamp. I told him
if he didn’t stop doing those things
to me, I would tell my mother;
he looked at the ax on the wall,
said I’d better not.

Back out in the sunshine slanting
down on our peach trees, next door
the apple orchard, last of the fruit
picked over by birds, I forgot
for forty years the things he’d done
and went on doing. In the garden
the chrysanthemums, ruined by frost,
had been cut to the ground.