It wasn’t that it took three mowers to tame the grass. After all, they were push mowers; it wasn’t like you could speed things up unless you had three bodies straining against the sun and by some miraculous intervention, all three mowers worked at the same time. It was never about needing three mowers, it was always about not having enough money to replace them with one mower that worked. The backhoe been rusting out since one of the cousins—Tre, who floated in and out of the family, and no one could ever remember if he was actual kin or a just a relation by marriage of someone who’d long divorced out—well, one night the backhoe just showed up behind the tool shed and Tre said, Lookit, if the cops show up to ask ‘bout it, act surprised. It wasn’t the kinda thing you could drag on down to Pawn Stars without an explanation, so there it sat. No cops ever came round to ask about it, though they did eventually come looking for Tre. Momma used to strap the Spectracide on her back like a weird chemical baby and walk the length of the property to keep out the fleas and the silverfish that overrun the summer kitchen when it got up into the 90s. Used to—the whole weedy, overrun patch of property is a Used-To, the family is a Used-To, this whole place is Used-To.
Hard to say why I woke up in an empty house on an empty plot of land in an empty town cris-crossed by empty streets and empty cars. Even Tre disappeared when the whole town got Raptured—maybe—or maybe they just got swallowed up by the kudzu that’d been creeping up on us, scrub pine by sweet gum: closer, greener, more and more like hands wrapped around a throat. Cutting off the breath. If they’d been Raptured away, what was the design behind me being left here with a stolen backhoe, three broke-down mowers with no gas, and a partly-used tank of pesticide for silverfish and fleas that all seem to have been Raptured away, too? Even the bugs found them some redemption. That’s gotta mean something.
There are this many means of exerting your will on the world and only one very quiet, lush way the world wills it back in again. Under the scrub pines, I evolve: I hear every scale of rust flake from the backhoe and fall into the dirt like thunderclaps. A furious wave of cells, splitting and dividing—human, vine, rust, dirt. Kudzu encroaching, stealthy as a husband’s hand under the bedsheets. A wave of fleas and silverfish riding weeds to the Rapture. Roots digging, tasting, ready to garrote any fleshy things left behind. Creeper vines encircle the structure of the toolshed, the backhoe, the mowers, these things meant to suppress them. This is the Rapture—I become something else, something that moves, greenly, without the human impulse to control the direction.
Allie Marini is a cross-genre Southern writer. In addition to her work on the page, Allie was a 2017 Oakland Poetry Slam team member & writes poetry, fiction, essays, and performs in the Bay Area, where as a native Floridian, she is always cold. Find her online: www.alliemarini.com or @kiddeternity