The Knockdown

The Knockdown

by Colleen Michaels

From this corner, the moss-marked fence gives the toothless grin
of a sucker taking the blows of branches in storms.
Root and post wrestle underground, a bare-knuckle history that goes deep.

Palooka fence always shadowed by the great American elm,
who won’t answer to Dutch, who has memorized
the grace of butterflies, who felt the haymaker punch of ’78.

Both opponents scarred with pulleys from depression time
clotheslines. But for the elm, it’s an enswell embedded,
a knot in this contender’s eye that always stares pride.

When the knockdown happens, a flash storm
no one saw coming, phantom limbs scratch the eyes
of the house and spit small seeds into a now fenceless yard.

Colleen Michaels’ poems appear in journals and anthologies and have been commissioned as installations for The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, The Peabody Essex Museum, and The Trustees of Reservations. She directs the Writing Studio at Montserrat College of Art where she has hosted the Improbable Places Poetry Tour since 2010, bringing poetry to unlikely places like tattoo parlors and swimming pools. Yes, in the swimming pool.