Garden State

The world smells green & wet & today I
am in a postlapsarian good mood 
as I meander by the Raritan canal, 
no longer moving in a deadly torpor 
like a winter fly, but thinking once again 
(the warming weather) about sex in a good way, 
how all those smells you’re supposed to be ashamed of 
or wash away smell good once you know a thing or two, 
& it’s finally humid enough, this second day 
after the rains, it is spring in New Jersey, 
I itch my eyes freely & blink down on gnats 
that seem determined to die in my field of 
so-close-I-can’t-see-them, & people are out
look at all their beautiful bodies, so many 
ankles & knees, clicking whizz of bike wheels, 
car exhaust hanging in the thick air, 
helmets pressing sweaty hair to sticky foreheads, 
a racket of motors on the other side of these trees, 
early evening: the light just now is furtive, holy, 
this is no prologue but the thing itself, the mud 
& the grease & the grass & the wet asphalt 
on one of those steaming, streaming, sunlit evenings 
after a week of rain that brought out the frogs 
to cover the road up the hill. There they were. 
No one knew where they were going.

From Good Grief, the Ground (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2023) by Margaret Ray. Copyright © 2023 Margaret Ray. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd.