Under the Crabgrass

A weed needs to be shown
where not to go, what not to swarm.
But we’ve let this one go unmanaged
because, let’s face it,
it’s better than the yellow husk
of other varieties in this heat.
Crabgrass, Digitaria sanguinalis,
is a vine-like weed
that overtakes everything,
& I admit it’s kinda beautiful.
The blades are dream-like,
a green of another world, & plush too.
Underneath the crabgrass
are my mother’s annual efforts
to make earth into a garden.
Lavender & marigolds
heat-throttled near the toad house,
steppingstones & rubber mulch
now somewhere swallowed
in grassy tickertape. I pitchfork the ground
using my memory as a dowsing rod
& am surprised to find
more than I expected after twisting
a superficial layer up off the ground:
my grandmother’s breast cancer
kept secret for two years,
my grandmother’s heart,
my grandfather’s mouth & lungs,
my father’s heart & diabetic wound,
everyone’s uncontrolled sugar.
I locate my root rot,
locate what my family lets go
in their silence. I am invasive.
My family tells me the locations
but rarely the names.
I walk through the yard, continue
forking the ground until I hear
something announce itself
for me to unchoke & name.

Laura Villareal is the author of Girl’s Guide to Leaving (University of Wisconsin Press, 2022). She has received fellowships from the Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts and National Book Critics Circle. Her writing appears in Guernica, the American Poetry Review, Waxwing, AGNI, and elsewhere.