The Orlando dead; the ribbons and signs on the rotary’s fence. My mind fringed
like that, bitten by heat, sky-kicking. At work the soil was thin and the land
was lent; long rows for kids to play at tending. There to help, I once allowed
the lettuce plants to fry to lace in minutes, like a joke. I cut my braids into the sink
and thought about you on the bus. Tomatoes bubbled overnight,
stovetop unattended. What profusion I found I made a little dangerous.
The corn I’d spaced or planted badly called out touch me, lonely perfect tassels
to the wind. When we shucked the first ripe one, only half filled out,
even the cruel twins left the shed and pressed to look and touch the ear.
Its freak pearls, its cool thread.
Copyright © 2023 by Isabel Neal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 7, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.