Later

by Terry Minchow-Proffitt

The summer our knack
for Kick the Can arcs to Spin the Bottle,
we rush supper to fling ourselves
into orbit with Angela and her sisters.
Delight declares itself in the rank Delta night,
draws us out after dark to that lit knoll
beneath the streetlight, where we vie
with the prior whir and winged havoc
of beetle, mosquito and moth.
We tease and pick the mown
grass, damp already with July’s early dewfall.
It grabs hold at the ankles, clings
to bare feet, shinnies up tanned legs
and skirts under the fringe of cut-off blue jeans.

We pluck the green stems of Bermuda,
lift them slender to our lips
like our parents’ forbidden cigarettes,
slip dandelion barrettes into the tropical smell
of long hair, shiny with Sun In and Prell.

It still takes a game.
By turns, the Coke bottle spins and stops.
Points. Permits our closing in
out of the light and back
behind the blue hydrangeas.

Later, we say to the girls, as we take off.
Later, to our longings so sated for now.
Later, to the play of our regal nights,
the braiding of clover into crowns,
careful for now always
to wear them blossom-side out.

A native of West Helena, Arkansas, Terry Minchow-Proffitt draws abiding inspiration from the Mississippi Delta and its people. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Arkansas Review, Big Muddy, Christian Century, decomP magazinE, Desert Call, Freshwater, OVS Magazine, The Oxford American, Pisgah Review, Prick of the Spindle, St. Ann’s Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Wild Violet, Words and Images and The Write Room. Read past poems by Terry in Deep South here.

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