Trimming Texas Cacti

Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia), Laredo, Texas

In Memory of Grady Lee Moore

The words no longer carried any meaning:
“I am sorry for your loss.”
So rehearsed and animatronic–
Like the pitch of a very bored salesman.
He had been on this earth 96 years
–Three dead lovers later–
The words such a stale, dead, flat and utterly useless gesture,
Like the majority of dead gestures in our cookie cutter lives.

That very day less than 24 hours after his loss,
Like any good stalwart Texan, now retired in Tallahassee, Florida,
He who endured the wars and depression
Even the 1918 influenza virus that wiped out half his family
Mother included
In less than two weeks;
He who served as a refrigerator repairman in the navy during WWII
In the Mediterranean;
He who started the Grady Lee Moore trucking company
In Arlington, Virginia;
He who through good old-fashioned sweat and tears
Found success
And dreamed the American dream.

My gesture of sympathy dribbled dead out of my mouth
Only achieved meaning
In act
As we donned our gloves,
Marched out into the suburban jungle on Randolph Circle
And silently trimmed the overgrown cacti in his front yard
No tears
No remorse
Our motions long rehearsed,
Broken only by the occasional prick of an unanticipated spine.

Each spine a pang of undigested grief

*First appeared in Deep South

Aaron Lee Moore

Though raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Floyd, Virgina, Aaron is currently a doctoral candidate in Sichuan University’s Comparative Literature program and recipient of a Full Chinese Government Scholarship. He received an MA in American Literature from Florida State University.

He is the chief editor of a print literary magazine, Floyd County Moonshine, which has been in production over 6 years.

His prior and forthcoming creative and scholarly publications include CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Miller’s Pond, and many others.

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