by the roadside


This is what summer looks like,
what summer smells like,
lazing in the graveled edges of the road
and beaten dirt walkways.

Pineapple weed makes the best salads,
at least that’s what I thought on the school yard
when we played runaways
who had to forage their own food.

It also grew where we walked, when we did,
down our busy road to Markettime Drug
because they had 5-cent candy
and shelves full of things that looked fancier than they were.

(It wasn’t about the candy —
I only ate it because I could —
it was about lazy summer days
with nothing else to do.)

The pineapple-scented blossoms
remind me of my grandmother’s shampoo.
I didn’t like it then, sitting in the cold tub,
but now the smell is all I have left of her.

Maybe that is why
I stoop each spring to pick their blossoms
and — without thinking — crushed the bloom
while holding it to my nose,

As if we have known each other a long, long time.


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