about the author

Matthew Burns is an Assistant Professor in Liberal Studies at SUNY Cobleskill in upstate New York. His poem “Rhubarb” won a James Hearst Prize from North American Review while others have received Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations and have appeared or are forthcoming in Graze, Quiddity, Memoir (and), Upstreet, Spoon River Poetry Review, Paterson Literary Review, Lime Hawk, The Lake, Raleigh Review, ellipsis..., Cleaver Magazine, and others.

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To the Groundhog My Father Wants to Drown

Matthew Burns

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but doesn’t and instead
drives out to the country to set free:

If you know what stars are,
thank them tonight as you’re curling up

in that new den you’ve spent
the warm autumn afternoon digging

into this new land far, far away
from the backyard and garden you’ve been

marauding all summer.
There is no Bibb lettuce out there, I know,

no rows of radish or deep-
rooted carrot to purloin and fill your fat body.

There is no fifty-five-gallon drum
filled with rainwater, either, so think hard

on the balance in that. Out there,
what must be some wild equivalent of a thousand

groundhog-miles away
from the suburban patch my dad cultivated

for a few dozen tomatoes, a few
late-summer salad’s-worth of green and orange,

you’ll last years. Goldenrod
and Queen Anne’s Lace will sustain,

believe this. You cannot understand
or even hear me, I know, but know you are as lucky

as the stars whose light makes it
to this humble, wild spot in just a million lifetimes

more than you or I can begin
to create in our little, animal minds. So,

when tonight opens above you
as it opens above everything else, let’s make a deal:

if you will, I will; we can, far apart and full
of miraculous luck, take it all in, together.

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