Sergeant Defenbargh pulled the old mower from the shed, but no matter how hard he yanked the cord, it just wouldn’t start. Even when he kicked it. So we went and bought a gas can and filled it up, and also some oil. This got it going. He made me hold the garbage bags when the mower was full. Then we pulled weeds until our knees were green. There was only one pair of gloves, so Sergeant Defenbargh gave them to me and used his bare hands. They were bleeding by the time we were done. He hadn’t talked all day except to give me instructions, but after we were done he patted my hair and said, “Now, that’s a good day’s work.”
“I know about the blue grass,” I told him. “It’s a lie.”
The sun was setting and it wasn’t so hot anymore. The bugs were coming out to bite. I followed him across the lawn as he shoved the mower back in the shed. He closed it up and leaned against it, wiping sweat from his face.
“You’re right,” he said, very seriously.
“Is there blue grass anywhere?”
“No.” He smiled. “But there used to be. A million days ago.”
We walked around to the garage, where he had put the pale green bag he brought home from the war. He showed me his boots. There was mud on them.
“This mud,” he told me, “is as old as Ur.”