When the school bell sounds its final ring,
We pack up the Rabbit and head Down South,
Where we will ride and walk, up and across,
The flat, square city blocks of Charlotte.
When the restless claim on her home overwhelms,
Grandma sends us outside to pluck from
The bounty from her summer garden,
The grass tickling my feet as I skip to its border.
Collard greens and snap peas,
The prickly spines of okra
Can’t conceal the slime inside–
Inedible, except when fried.
I sit on the concrete steps
Beside an over-full paper bag
A metal mixing bowl between my legs
As I break the stems and string the beans.
My brother holds up a bruised tomato
So that I can bite into it like an apple,
Letting its pulpy juices spill
Through my teeth and down my chin.
Later that night, he and I
Spin In lazy circles
‘Round the steamy blacktop
Of the church parking lot.
I pray for the stewing tension to break–
A sticky breeze lifts the ruffles of my shorts,
I mash them against my legs with shame,
A swarm of fireflies winks at me while flitting by.
My beehive of hair sticking out in frizzy relief,
A halo of exploding lights breaks the silence–
In celebration of July’s freedom,
We stand akimbo and salute the cityscape
The air rumbles as lighting flashes
Across the black gauze of sky,
Like God is flicking a switch
On and off, off and on.
We kids of the mountains
Watch the infinite horizon–amazed,
As fat globs of summer rain
Plop heavily on our bare skin.
© 2019 Renée Canada Wuerth