Only the weight of ripeness:
watermelons, coolers on their shoulders.
Covered quesadillas, arroz con pollo,
spices loaded in strollers.
Who sees “luis”?
At the northernmost reaches of the Chesapeake
Bay, no lime-green vests. No ditch to dig. No seam
to mend. No fields itinerant.
The kiss of the sun rises
on grills smoking. Aromas
of black beans and rice.
Boys like boys play soccer. Grandmothers play poker
at riverfront picnic tables. No roses to traffic in backup.
No crew in the lot waiting for luck at Home Depot.
They motorboat. Jet ski.
Who cares if fishing boats tip, if thunder recoils?
They pole for croakers, they bucket the catch of eels.
The women dress in denim shirts and white mantillas.
No men are mules, no soldiers.
A band plays “jesus is señor” at the gazebo.
Kathleen Hellen is a poet and the author of Umberto’s Night (2012) and The Girl Who Loved Mothra (2010). Her poems are widely published and have appeared in American Letters & Commentary; Barrow Street; Cimarron Review; Evergreen; Nimrod; Poetry Northwest; Prairie Schooner; Rattapallax; Sycamore Review; Witness; among others; and were featured on WYPR’s The Signal.