Misnomer

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,
Pocahontas’ people—
not made for pastel-
lined driveways, houses
set back facing the road
like rubber-neckers
after a loud crash of histories.
Where last year’s leaffall
is manicured into groomed mounds
of might-have-beens,
and the latest models
sit sparkling in whitewashed
gravel beds. And yet, the drive
is pleasant enough,
Victorian voice
on the smartphone
alerting me of the next turn
off, so that I, as well as the azaleas,
dogwoods, can enjoy the scenery
without overthinking
where the journey ends.

Like new leaves to frost in April

so many things can get lost
forever. like that cutting I stole
from a prickly pear outside the Mexican place
in Oyster Point when I lived there
for six weeks, learning
to deliver babies. never did
get it to bloom, and never did catch
a kid, either: one little bud
all I wanted to make it feel a little less
like killing time. I hauled
the thing back up the coast, nurtured
it for years, flowerless; left it with the rest
on the backporch that day after
mother died.  haven’t troubled
my hand with cactus since—
the yard all lavender and rose now,
like that bubblebath I brought her
that she never got to use,
only with thorns.

that which withers (may sometimes be conjured again)

in riverwater, like in summer songs,
there is no fear, only
longing. we have never

once swum naked, never sunk
our suspicions in dark rivermud
to drown with all their scrapmetal

hearts; instead we bury them
in the backyard of the co-
habitation we both agree

was too soon, next
to the roses by the bleached-
bone fence. i miss your

honeysuckle, the pulling
sweet drips of you
with my tongue. i long

for a good, hard
stretch of new growth,
a backwards of time,

depths that brighten
in sunlight. i want
to plant lavender

and strawberries, shoo
away the stale that
creeps damp-wise

into us. i am
bareso(u)led. & tired
of pruning.