Trimming Texas Cacti
by Aaron Moore
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, depression, prohibition,
Even the 1918 influenza virus that wiped out half his family
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
And dreamed the American dream.
My gesture of sympathy dribbled dead out of my mouth
Only achieved meaning
As we donned our gloves,
Marched out into the suburban jungle on Randolph Circle
And silently trimmed the overgrown cacti in his front yard
Our motions long rehearsed,
Broken only by the occasional prick of an unanticipated spine.
Each spine a pang of undigested grief
Aaron Moore is the chief editor of literary magazine Floyd County Moonshine, which has been in production for more than five years.The magazine publishes Appalachian-themed short stories and poetry and has included such notable authors as Lou Gallo, Steve Kistulentz, Simon Perchik, R.T. Smith, Donald Secreast and Tim Poland. Moore himself has been published in The Pen, Virginia English Bulletin, The Roanoke Times, Gameguidesonline and Interdisciplinary Literary Studies. He graduated with a BA in English from Radford University and received an MA in American Literature from Florida State University, where he specialized in Faulkner Studies. He’s lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Floyd, Virginia, most of his life.