Tall Grass (Poem)

Tall Grass


Small boy

Seven or eight

Hair so white blond

A blue jay will chase him from the barn

Strafing his head, hoping for hair

For a nest, presumably.



In the countryside:

A toy rifle with a scope,

A fresh gift.

Small toad

Caught, thoughtlessly dropped in the scope

And wedged, hopelessly, in the scope’s pinched middle.

Helplessly, trying to unwedge the toad

Without maiming it or killing it,

Unable to do so,

Small boy

Throws his gift, and the toad still alive, still wedged,

In the now sightless scope,

Into the tall grass down the hill from the fence.



Small boy

Looks for his kitten,

Missing for several days;

And is led by his nose,

Trailing mounting fear,

To a dark spot beneath a workbench

In an outbuilding.


Small cat

Is found, rotting, its head

Somehow gotten into but unable to get out of

A mason jar, rolled from among canning supplies,

Underneath the bench.

Unable to bear

The thought of the cat’s death, not to mention its final moments,

Small boy

Throws partially jarred carcass

Into the tall grass down the hill from the fence.


Big boy,

I wonder now about

That tall grass

Down the hill

From the fence,

That tall grass,

About whether it still hides

The guilt-edged horrors of my childhood:

Toy guns and toads, mason jars and kittens,

Knowledge of fate and death.

2 responses

  1. There is a hush now while the hills rise up
    and God is going to sleep. He trusts the ship
    of Heaven to take over and proceed beautifully
    as he lies dreaming in the lap of the world.
    He knows the owls will guard the sweetness
    of the soul in their massive keep of silence,
    looking out with eyes open or closed over
    the length of Tomales Bay that the egrets
    conform to, whitely broad in flight, white
    and slim in standing. God, who thinks about
    poetry all the time, breathes happily as He
    repeats to Himself: there are fish in the net,
    lots of fish this time in the net of the heart.

    “Fishing in the Keep of Silence” by Linda Gregg

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