His words desert him this morning for downtown Manhattan,
carrying briefcases, newspapers and coffee. They do not speak
to each other. They’re thinking of memos, faxes and phonecalls.
They do not look at him, a Chinese wetback waiting to be picked
for a day’s work. Tiny jaws gnaw at him and he wants Matt.
The spotted knapweed migrates fast,
decimating the bluebunch wheat grass.
You can identify it by its pink blooms
in black-mottled bracts on stem tips.
He hurries past fat black women prodding snappers which gape
on beds of ice, past the row of crones blistering next to their red
talismans and I-Ching hexagrams, their faces cracked
like parched ground, past the old men hunched over their paper
chessboards, rolling a cannon across the river or retreating an elephant.
Small populations can be uprooted
by digging and pulling. If they’re established,
spray Picloram at point five pounds
per acre when the plant is a bud.
He passes a boy practicing a Yao Ming hookshot seen on TV,
two young men outside Kowloon Trading stacking empty crates
into a van, the New Land Arcade that squats a quarter-block
and catches the eye with its tall, electrified gold letterings,
and clones of knick-knack shops that claim Little Italy.
The weed is not just hungrier. Its taproot
secretes catechin which triggers natives
to kill their own cells. It is not just lean,
as one scientist puts it, but mean.
He plunges, two steps at a time, into Canal Street Station.
In the car’s electric lighting, he looks for Matt
in the young white men and lurches into them. The train shrieks.
Fulton Street. The grid has crazed into a maze dead-ended
by tower blocks, to be traced with the red thread of a previous visit.
Trials are being carried out
to determine if bio-agents work.
The weevil is a candidate. A species
of seed-head gallflies looks promising.
He pulls Matt, word made flesh, out of his standard chair, out
of the office and its mite-dusted carpet into the men’s and locks
their mouths. He works his man’s belt loose and turns him
round. Matt pulls his tan shirt over his head and arms. The tenant bends
over his white boy’s blue-veined torso. This is also his farm.