August, wind gust, rain lust, drought,
Heart-shaped leaves and heart-shaped doubt.
Live oak, pin oak, hackberry,
Sun-singed lace in place of rosemary.
Mimicking the oak it splits in three.
Which one sings, O woe is me?
The oak or the electricity?
A chain locked the big red barn
so I held my daughters up to the rattling window
to see the “darkness,” a word
they’d just learned and used
with abandon. One lost her watermelon barrette.
I celebrated the birthday I feared.
The next morning the mountain air
snaked my legs while the people I loved slept
under the blades of ceiling fans. I ran
because I’d failed to run before
and because children ran, wet grasses up to their waists
in the gnarled orchard, pink ribbons
fluttering out from their hands. When I think
about that summer I think about the rocks
piled into low walls and bound
with nothing, the wind making desperate flags
of the ferns. The EKG showed a deviation, a path
I’d followed without realizing it was a path
I couldn’t leave. An elderly couple walking in soft white shoes
cheered me on. How strong and fast I was!
Down the road I raced against the woods.
Cecily Parks is the author of the poetry collections Field Folly Snow (2008) and O’Nights (2015), and editor of The Echoing Green: Poems of Fields, Meadows, and Grasses (2016). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Best American Poetry 2020, and elsewhere. She teaches at Texas State University.