By the Levee
by Doris Lynch

New Orleans

Sunflowers with their pebbly faces
hung over our clapboard fence
that first summer of your life.

Even without the photo, I remember you then,
bald as a walnut, bare-assed, skin brindled
from your mud play at the bottom of the steps.

I hung laundry above you on the line,
jerry-rigged from fence to dilapidated fence.
You shrieked like a blue jay as the diapers
flapped against the flesh
reddening on the tomato plants.

The air burned yellow
those summer days:
yellow, the color of your peach fuzz,
yellow, the color of those starred tomato
blossoms, and of those happy
faces, the sunflowers,
that jogged in place
each afternoon in the wind
that came before the big storm.


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