If the gold chain man had not been so vain,
so determined. A two pound bag of seed beans.
Lynda scattered them all one night
in the yard of the gold chain man
after he was seen at Casa Bill's
with Carmelita Sanchez. He was
yard conscious. Yard proud. His lawn
was green and moist, it had
flamingoes in it, their tails
twirling with each breeze.
The beans sprouted, sly and unfurling,
in three days. Pale tendrils craning
above the short clipped grass.
He mowed them down.
They came back. He mowed them down
again, hopeless, cursing, he knew
what it meant. Three and five and seven
times he mowed, and the beans sprouted.
They knew nothing but this rich dirt,
this hot sun, this five times a day
If the gold chain man
had not been so vain,
if the gold chain man
had not been so determined to win back
his neat grass, stop the beans
from bushing over his yard, what happened next
would not have happened. Necio.
Everyone knows the remedy is Weedex, the cure
drought. Yard shrivels up,
whips away, dust, in the same breeze
that spins a flamingo's jaunty tailfeathers.
And everyone knows, by the dust, by the light
brown dust, what he did, faithless man.
Gold chain man, faithless, nevertheless
worked harder to beat the beans
than he ever did to love Lynda.
She and her brother drank lemonade on Abuela's patio,
watched the gold chain man in the hot sun,
mowing, mowing. He began to take days off
at work. He tried to belly about the yard,
pull each sprout
out. He mowed until
his fair skin was as flushed
as flamingoes. Every day
he was sweating in his yard, losing,
until finally the beans outstripped the man,
until finally he sank, stroked by heat,
dehydrated, onto the ground,
and the sprouts rose around him,
ankle high, knee high, chest high,
tangles of beans, they consumed
the slate step walkway, the porch, they crawled
all in the privet until it looked
like the privet bore beans, they seized
the big red car, thronged around its tires.
The beans flourished everywhere
in the careful yard of the gold chain man,
the best crop anyone had seen in that neighborhood,
and sweet, like lemonade.
Copyright © 1993 Jody Wallace
Jody Wallace writes poetry and fiction while living in a very small place in Tennessee. Her work has appeared in several print journals over the years, but Strange Horizons is her cyber debut. Visit her Web site to learn more about her.