by Caroline Maun

Royal palms near the water

If I was showing you the house,
I’d be sure to mention the century cactus,
no longer there, that sent up its flagpole-sized stamen
before collapsing under its own weight. I’d point out
the royal palm that started to fruit in 1973, and how
we had to axe open the hulls on a stump. We’d walk
to the dock where you could watch schooling
fish dart between mangrove roots. I’d tell you about
how, in winter, the tides would go so low you
could walk across the oyster beds in your
worst pair of tennis shoes, saved just for that.
I’d say that I sat in the center of the yard,
where the Bermuda grass was thickest,
and played with the dog that didn’t live a year.
I’d let you know that there were some afternoons
the sky would turn from cerulean to purple
and how the loblolly pine needles would get
vivid green in surreal contrast. The sky
before a storm would turn everything sepia
as the pressure fell. How we would find
rhinoceros beetles making their slow way
up the sandy drive, and how the punk tree bark
would have made good paper if you’d needed some.
How I knew those trees. The side lot had an
oleander that my dad removed because
of the risk, since I made mud pies, baked, and ate them.
How that same shady side lot was full of Boston fern,
how I sat cross-legged in that glade among the snakes.

“Tour” was first published in Third Wednesday (Autumn 2020).

Category: Featured, Poetry