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John Glenn Smith’s last day at home was hot,
cicadas scratching out their shrilling rhythm
from the deeper woods behind the house.
Everywhere he went, the sound was with him.

That morning he went out to pick the garden
in overalls and long-sleeved checkered shirt,
a hat to shade his head, his favorite gloves,
and heavy boots, for walking in the dirt.

The sun, the insects, and the garden’s scent
he’d known like his own hand, for eighty years.
Today the heat lay heavy on his shoulders;
he wondered at the ringing in his ears.

He put a few tomatoes in his bucket,
and then John Glenn, a gardener since birth,
stopped behind the row of purple hulls
and stooped, then knelt, returning to the earth.