No Room for Error

The bamboo rises in the yard with the hump of a sea serpent. Angling the shovel, I break its spine. A neighbor planted the bamboo—on the property line. For the longest time I told myself she’d sunk a barrier around it. Surely no one would plant invasive, destructive bamboo on the property line without consulting the neighbor. The yards in Harbor Town are tight. We have no room for error.

The weeds are next. Lugging the Roundup out to the street, I squat and spray. A rustle in the bushes distracts me. Our house is on an island in the Mississippi River. We get snakes. I rise and, creeping to the hedge, peer between the limbs. A robin.

I don’t know if he is the robin I fell in love with last year or not. I don’t know how long the denizens of my yard—the towering cotton woods, the buried moles, the birds—live.

I return to my weeding. Lifting the nozzle of the Roundup, I stop. Roundup is an insecticide, manufactured by Monsanto. I use it sparingly, only where hand-pulling becomes endless. Safe, they claim. But who’s to say what they mean by that? Will it hurt the robin?

I set the Roundup bottle on the ground. I settle into weeding by hand.

Surely no one would spray destructive insecticide on the property of the robin without consulting him. After all, we have no room for error.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

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