Suddenly that great sadness of coats. The echinacea turning pale, ragged around their corollas, into big pincushions. The black edges of the tickweed. Suddenly, it seems, the large-headed sunflowers like Abraham Lincoln near the end of the war. Stooped. Staring at my feet. Inside the house, the five white boxes my mother sent of things I said I’d wanted, which I’ll have to make room for now, and which she was glad to hear had arrived safely. Somewhere among my container garden, the one praying mantis who made it through will appear soon, usually as I’m watering things out of habit one cool morning. Suddenly will race toward me like a strange horse.

JEFF OAKS’ newest chapbook, Mistakes with Strangers, will be published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2013. He has poems appearing or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Rhino, Barrow Street, Best New Poets 2012, and Field. His essays have appeared most recently in At Length, Creative Nonfiction and My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them. He teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh.