12th Street

Ann Kendall




I come around the corner, down the short hill
I see her, sitting—her shades all crackly and blue
Long, low porch that dips in the middle—
Her arms open wide, eyelids half closed
Study brown columns, reflect the setting sun
Her door gate stands strong and proud.
Four steps up, willow chair to my left
Empty wine glass from last night to my right—
I pause to watch the humidity roll up the street
Braced for the chill inside.
Big Orange Julius brushes out the door
Fur flying, off on a mission only he knows
I leave the bars open for just a minute
To let him explore and sniff
Still-blooming yellow roses.
Mrs. J hollers from the next porch over,
"What're you girls doing tonight?"
"Sitting right here if it ever it cools down."
She smiles and says,
"Any boys coming over tonight? Any good lookin' ones?"
I just smile back.
Orange Julius returns from his mission
So I head upstairs to peel
The day's heat-trapping stockings—
And slip into the gauzy crispness of a fresh sundress.
I lay down on my bed for a moment
Opening the transom for air.
Neighbors are coming home,
Mrs. Js's grandson to the left
The housepainter and his five daughters to the right.
Barefoot, I pad down the stairs
Roommate's home—wine or gin?
Gin, she says, easy on the tonic—
I pour two, head back to the porch.
Like every night, the block is filling up
Porch swings squeak, a tricycle bell rings,
A car door down the block.
Curled up in my willow chair—
Cool yet hot—the first scorching sip.
Night draws near, streetlights hum to on—
Rose and honeysuckle hug the stickiness
No breeze but for the rocking chair creak.


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