Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Blue Agave

by Frankie Drayus

The neighbor wants us to rip out the blue agave.
Says it’s in the way of the deck he wants to build.
I know the agave houses a spirit.
The spirit looks after us and we look after the agave.
I am not a religious person.
This is simply a fact.

Our neighbor calls a gardener to give us a quote.
You would think this had something to do with either generosity
(the giving part)
or speaking the worthy words of another
(the quoting part).
But it’s only about money for destruction.

All day my stomach burns until the gardener arrives.
He motions me over, says quietly, so that only I can hear him:
“You don’t want to lose it, do you?”
I blink and shake my head.
“Don’t worry—you couldn’t pay my men enough to wrestle with it.”

The blue agave is maybe 10 feet in diameter and nearly as tall.
It is a large spirit.
It sits where my neighbor wants to put a deck, so he says.
It sits where my neighbor wants to change the way things are.

When there is a moon the blue agave looks cold and silver.
It almost glows.
There was a fire one year on our hillside.
All the weeds went up and the agave just sat there, waiting for it all to be
	finished, unharmed.
They won’t be able to burn it out, then.

Our neighbor says things like:
“Your trees sure are tall, aren’t they?
You don’t actually think they look good like that do you?”
I like it when the blossoms he says are his drop into the yard we say is ours.
They are orange and beautiful.
He does not like the silvery leaves from our trees.
He does not like the spikes from the blue agave.

If I were a religious person I might say a prayer for the blue agave.
Instead I stare hard at my neighbor’s house and think:
	Would you tear down a spirit’s house?
I cannot actually ask my neighbor this.
Sometimes I wonder why not.
I would not tear down his house
even though I find him rather inconvenient.
I do not tell him this either.

Now the neighbor has left his place of origin and is alongside me, us.
He makes it his business to belong.
He makes daily phone calls that use many words but only mean
	manifest destiny.
I do not tell this to the blue agave; it already knows.

Some things do not have words but they have time.
And the blue agave and we, we wait.


—Honorable Mention, the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize 2017; first published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2017-18 (Garden Oak Press, February 2018) and appears here with permissions from the publisher and the poet


SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Frankie Drayus

is a poet and fiction writer whose work has appeared in Poet Lore, Duende, Ninth Letter, diode, Per Contra, Third Coast, Poemeleon, Boxcar Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Her manuscripts have been finalists for the National Poetry Series, May Swenson Poetry Prize, and the Walt Whitman Prize. She graduated from the MFA program in Creative Writing at NYU where she was poetry editor for Washington Square. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she has served as Poet in Residence at Beyond Baroque Literary and Arts Center. From 2008-2012, she co-curated The Third Area reading series at an art gallery in Bergamot Station, and she is a proud survivor of the 3:15 Experiment.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury