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For A Row Of Laurel Shrubs

by
 They don't want to be your hedge,
 Your barrier, your living wall, the no-go
 Go-between between your property
And the prying of dogs and strangers.
They don't Want to settle any of your old squabbles Inside or out of bounds.
Their new growth In three-foot shoots goes thrusting straight Up in the air each April or goes off Half-cocked sideways to reconnoiter Wilder dimensions: the very idea Of squareness, of staying level seems Alien to them, and they aren't in the least Discouraged by being suddenly lopped off Year after year by clippers or the stuttering Electric teeth of trimmers hedging their bets To keep them all in line, all roughly In order.
They don't even Want to be good-neighborly bushes (Though under the outer stems and leaves The thick, thick-headed, soot-blackened Elderly branches have been dodging And weaving through so many disastrous springs, So many whacked-out, contra- Dictory changes of direction, they've locked Themselves together for good).
Yet each Original planting, left to itself, would be No fence, no partition, no crook-jointed Entanglement, but a tree by now outspread With all of itself turned upward at every Inconvenient angle you can imagine, And look, on the ground, the fallen leaves, Brown, leathery, as thick as tongues, remain Almost what they were, tougher than ever, Slow to molder, to give in, dead slow to feed The earth with themselves, there at the feet Of their fathers in the evergreen shade Of their replacements.
Remember, admirers Long ago would sometimes weave fresh clippings Into crowns and place them squarely on the heads Of their most peculiar poets.

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