I'll Try to Tell You What I Know

Sometimes it's so hot the thistle bends 
to the morning dew and the limbs of trees 
seem so weighted they won't hold up moss 
anymore. The women sit and swell 
with the backwash of old family pain 
and won't leave the house to walk across 
the neighbor's yard. One man takes up a shotgun 
over the shit hosed from a pen of dogs. 
One boy takes a fist of rings and slams the face 
of a kid throwing shells at his car.
That shiny car is all the love his father 
has to give. And his mother cooks 
the best shrimp étouffée and every day
smokes three packs down to their mustard-colored ends.

One night the finest woman I ever 
knew pulled a cocktail waitress by the hair 
out of the backseat of her husband's new 
Eldorado Cadillac and knocked her 
down between the cars at the Queen Bee Lounge.
She drove the man slumped and snoring with his hand 
in his pants home and not a word was said.
I'll try to tell you what I know 
about people who love each other 
and the fear of losing that cuts a path
as wide as a tropical storm through the marsh 
and gets closer each year
to falling at the foot of your door.

From Côte Blanche by Martha Serpas. Copyright © 2002 by Martha Serpas. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press. All rights reserved.