in the street, a small boy hums the twelve
days of Christmas under a hot June sun.
cobwebs gather like cotton in the windows
in a matter of days; i stay
up too late reading stories i already know,
wage war with my body, long to sink
drowned in a hot bath, or back down
onto the cool stone floor
of the kitchen where
you made me forget the heaviness
of my skin, where gardenia slips
through the screens– the plant
they said will never make it
through the frost.
every movement of my hand
is hedged; even dreaming;
even sweaty against the tile, there
are still more clothes to wash,
still more doubts to run clean.
it is hot for this time of year, we’re told,
no relief in storms.
it’s five a.m., and a firetruck screams red
& white through crust-eyed darkness, winding
its labyrinthine, becoming distance,
still; soft; threat.
I bought a unicorn. Swapped
it for my work-a-day black
espresso taken with a daily dose
of state-of-the-world and self-disgust.
All sweet-tart pink
powder & blue syrup, topped
with a spiral of pure white cream;
you needn’t tell me no one needs that crap,
the processed sugar & color, short-
chained fats, the plastic cup;
I savored every last drop, followed it up
at the Salvation Army
with a pair of crocheted pants
and a sleeveless fringed tank
2 sizes too large that reads:
love the little things.
Somewhere off Cherokee Road
the hills roll and the azaleas,
dogwoods litter the banks
of the dropped shoulder
with prom dress colors,
like this neck of the woods
was made for sweet sixteen.
Passing through for the first time,
I don’t understand: the Cherokee
never knew this southside
central Virginia suburb
as home; this
was Mattaponi land, or Pamunkey,
not made for pastel-
lined driveways, houses
set back facing the road
after a loud crash of histories.
Where last year’s leaffall
is manicured into groomed mounds
and the latest models
sit sparkling in whitewashed
gravel beds. And yet, the drive
is pleasant enough,
on the smartphone
alerting me of the next turn
off, so that I, as well as the azaleas,
dogwoods, can enjoy the scenery
where the journey ends.