BY GUSTAV PARKER HIBBETT
There were days, not too long ago, when I’d move
like swallows on my longboard; roll slow through shadows
under trees, filtered light like water on my skin. Breathless green.
One can get so lost in movement, in the comfort of immediacy;
the quiet certainty of going somewhere. I was fuller then, sure
and bright and bigger, on my terms. Black boy as sunflower.
But the soil here is poisoned. Tuscaloosa’s backbone whiteness
like a rot; tradition’s claws sclerotic on my roots. Now cautious,
almost photonastic, I’ve gotten so much smaller here.
False shamrocks, from the genus of oxalis, come in green
and purple. Like clovers, they’re trifolic — three leaves —
but oxalis leaves are sharper, more triangular. False shamrocks
have a quiet beauty, a much more careful one. Their flowers,
in the shaded dirt beside my porch, seem wary: they fold inward,
shut like spent umbrellas, every night, or when disturbed,
or under too much sun. The flowers of the purple ones are pale pink,
a bid for richness. I miss the days when I was bigger; I used to face
the direct sunlight instead of closing underneath it. Of course
I miss the easy sense of trusting soil. And I know I steep this language
in self-pity, but, just for now, I need to hold it like a shield. Right now,
I need to rest amongst my shamrocks in the swollen air of summer.