My Southern Legitimacy Statement: Born in Virginia though the important years happened in North Carolina, now I live in Hanoi, which though considered the north here is still farther south than anywhere else I’ve ever lived.
Nasturtiums and deflated, purple balloon flowers.
Wild tiger lilies orange and defiant the deer wouldn’t eat.
Only of the daisies those that lost a petal or two.
Sugar maple and black oak saplings for texture.
Blue beech and yellow birch bark for color.
A grab of blue chicory blossoms, ostentatious as religion, highlights to snare the passing eye.
Brown eggshells from the compost pile, just softening, spotted with bleaching and decay.
Sprigs of mint and a whole bed of oregano, a handful of lavender, a heartful of basil, a headful of sage.
One for each dimension, sixteen strands of thyme.
Paper birch branches thicker than your wrist, bark peeling like a rain jacket shedding rain while crumpled on the floor.
Several watermelon rinds tossed aside one after another not hurriedly but with a pace of steady, considered consumption, like a locomotive crossing a frontier.
A sour mash of swollen, leaky strawberries and bruised, broken raspberries.
A single jawbone, teeth intact, and a single rib, cracked, of a stag.
Carrot peelings in a nest, again from the compost pile.
Cucumber heads and tails.
Saturated lemon slices from pitchers of sweet tea.
The amputated leg of a furry, silver-dollar sized spider that fled with a limp the miniature lettuce head under the faucet.
Tufts of taller grass from the patch that couldn’t be mown.
I gathered it all and made to present a portrait of summer I burned in the wood stove in the autumn’s first cold.
Though it smelled suspect it warmed my house all winter.