A supplicant stands at the kitchen basin.
Hands cradle warm, fragrant fruit.
Fingers skim velveteen surface.
Knife slips between skin and flesh,
flashes silver edges. On the longitude,
she inserts the blade. Parts the mesocarp.
Reveals a gnarled seed.
With a flick, the pit tumbles. Leaves a rosy
depression into which her thumb slides.
White teeth bite into yellow flesh. Stored sunshine
melts on her tongue. Rivulets of moisture trickle
arms, baptize chin and seal her to the moment.
I practice the art of porch sitting,
with my exposed heart outside my ribs
while black banded wood storks
glide to arboreal landings.
The folding of their wings catches me
tucks me into their bird-boned bodies,
integrates me to feathers.
Wind shifts, branches quaver.
A bird startles. Releases
me into the humid, fecund air.
I gentle down into my rocker,
as my heart beats from the exertion.
At August’s close,
the heat has worn
all of the greens
out of the leaves.
Maples are gold.
The wind sings in pines
whose lush needles
no longer glint bright
with the sun.
Here is the beginning of fall
when the cotton plants show white,
yellow butterflies float among them
while the sky is a dull blue.
Where the earth is as rumpled as
our morning bed with the covers
flung in all directions,
Where the sky fills the horizon
scribed to the curves of ancient
hills tufted with oak and poplar,
This is where my heart beats in time to
an imperceptible rhythm.
My lungs fully exhale to inspire
forest scents of musk and green.
My mountains. Appalachians.
Ancient. Enduring. Home.
Summer has emerged
moist and hot like two young lovers
clinging to each other
with greening passion.
It has draped itself
with oleander, gardenia and magnolia.
While it sweats in labor
heavy with growing life.
hangs in darkness
the sleeping world.
they miss the smells
carried in the womb
of the night.
Gardenia and magnolia
wax myrtle and ginger lily
pluff mud and marsh.
Native and import.
horse piss and dog piles
mingle with the sweet.
Charleston at night
sultry and quiet
creates a landscape
on the edge of morning
in the density of night.
*I wrote this impressionistic poem many years ago after walking in the historic district in the hour before dawn. The still, humid air amplifies all the scents. Wax myrtle has a wonderful spicy aroma. It was used by colonists to create bayberry scent. The ginger lily is incredibly sweet; some would say cloying, but I love it. Same for gardenias and magnolias. Mix the “bottom notes” of the scents of decay and feces and urine and you have the scent of Charleston in the heat of summer. I took this photo one recent August morning while out for a pre-dawn bicycle ride.