Poetry / August 2008 (Issue 4)

Flowers are as Permanent as Brick

by Reid Mitchell

Snow flecked with orange as if it fell from the sun.
A shambles of ripped branches.
The ground has grown lemons and bright hailstones.
Yellow wasps attack the cold air.

In two hours it will be summer again.
The yard and the year, will recover.
Here snow is never seasonable.
A deep freeze is what we fear.

The trees, so young, already yield a past:
We planted the lemon in sawdust and sand,
stray cat litterbox, the yard’s bad patch.
Iron nails rust at the roots of the lime
and the satsuma. The blood orange and olive
are whims, with nothing promised.

The wise build on rock, the foolish on sand,
but here people build on mud.
When we dug up this yard, we unearthed
bricks enough to make a mansion. We laughed.
A house stood here once. It sank. If we dig deep,
we'd hit the roof.

What we found, revealed by the true path
of water, was cement slab, cracked by nut sedge
and St. Augustine grass, hard to break
with hand, foot, and shovel, poured to some purpose
as remote to us as an ancient cult.

We bought a house with bones underneath
and termites in its beams, and we built on it.
It's our roof of tin the future finds, and our walls
not quite concrete, no longer wood. I hope
our lemon tree remains, bearing fruit
for love, strength, and bitterness,
and that the orange bleeds color like the sun.

No matter how big the storm,
You can’t stop people from building houses.

Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.