American Summer

In August we shuck corn,

dropping husks into a bag beside us

as we wait for the air to cool.

Mom says not to go out barefoot

but the dirt is fresh and our feet are pulled to it,

kicking up grass as we run.


We climb white fences, you over, me under,

I’m still small and skinny and fit below the slats

but you’re taller now, your smell harsher too;

it climbs with you, billowing over my head,

cheek grating driveway grit, dirt in my grin.


We roast chives on the barbecue, not hungry for hamburgers

we say green smells better than carcass over coal.

Your long hair gets caught in a flame and I scream,

you laugh as it jumps and sings.


I cut your hair for you, cute and short,

the locks discarded in paper bags.

It takes two showers to wash the shavings off your neck,

one less than it takes to make our feet white again.


We don’t get hungry until four in the morning,

I hear your stomach across the bedroom.

Chives leave a bitter taste in my gums;

I ask for a stick and we chew in the dark.

It sounds like how the calves chew cud and I

consider the number of cows that are grilled

during an American summer; I fall asleep –

don’t gag says Mom


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