I went to M and M Hardware in Hartfield and bought a sickle—a huge rakelike piece of steel—only instead of a rake at the end there is a double-edged sharp, wavy blade made to rip through branches, thick weeds and other bone-like growth. Eighteen dollars. The front of my property is wooded, and on a few acres toward the river, I spent some time clearing out brush and unwanted vines. We piled it up to haul away, but before that could happen, other more tenacious weeds— small trees really—took over the area. Some I pulled out, some I mowed, but I couldn’t grasp to tug out the tougher ones—so the sickle. One warm morning while alone, I put on shorts and flip flops, grabbed the sickle and walked the six hundred or so feet through the woods to swing away at a small grove. None would rip out easily, so I aimed for the fences, came down from my right with major-league force and tore through the vines like an axe through balsa. I attacked one after another, muscles taught so that sweat came fast, and I made progress. Then I stepped to swing for what looked like a thick, knotty growth at the bottom of the stump. It was a Virginia creeper vine. Sometimes these monsters look rooted but aren’t. But what do I know; I’m from New York. So I swung at it like Alex Rodriquez. The blade passed through as if the weed were nothing more than a figment of my imagination, and with all my energy plus a good deal of inertia, the metal ripped into my left ankle.
The Spring Issue of Barely South Review, the Literary Magazine at Old Dominion University.