HomeSouthern VoiceTrimming Texas Cacti

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-
cactusLike 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
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

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.

Gaston Street
Literary Friday, Edi
  • John / May 25, 2013

    What a great commemoration of a memorable figure — I especially like the connection between trimming of cacti and the separation of death. Because I have written repeatedly about my own grandfather, this piece connected with me.

  • Susannah Cecil / June 3, 2013

    “Undigested grief” — raw & piercing image. I, too, connected w/ this piece after having lost my Grandmother last summer. Thank you~

  • Andersen / December 4, 2013

    very sweet and bitter. A history of grandfather and Southern, moved. I like the overal impression and imagery.

  • Andersen / December 4, 2013

    beautiful, between lines & outline. Sorry for your loss.