In the dead of August,
A few leaves yellow-scuttled yards
Unready for rakes, autumn’s casual brush by—
A 68-degree flirt with sweater weather after a fine rain.
In a deeper South, the Amazon burned;
The slideshow played, a frame or two,
On a small screen, swiped by android thumbs
Tracking the finer points of the Dow
Jagging fire-engine red.
In a pre-charred dawn,
Rainforest palms fanned their last
Against dusky pumpkin skies,
“Smelling of barbecue,”
The whole hog
Pit-roasted over hickory
And thin-drizzled with tangy vinegar?
Or mustard and paprika-heated dry rub
Powdered with garlic, brown sugar, and allspice?
Or smoked chicken sweating peppery vinegar-laced mayonnaise?
Soon yellow-brown will flatten lawns,
As bone-white ceramic tile chilled my feet,
And I groped for a supermarket orange
Shrinking in the refrigerator bin.
It felt tired in my hand.
Memory peeled back
To frosty mornings when I rode with my father
To the farmers market in Birmingham’s West End.
Fires burned in rusting drums
And we huddled in the dark,
Waiting for trucks hauling citrus
From distant groves,
Where winter went green year-round.
Blast furnaces cast a tangerine glow
Until dawn streaked,
And the sun flashed on big rigs
Bearing Florida nectar—
Exotics to eat out of hand,
With names to dream on:
Valencia, Indian River, Satsuma, and Seville
Took the choke out of those sulfur days,
The never-letup of iron-smelting.
Ambrosial. I tasted the word this morning—
While the Amazon rainforest died another day.