A Midsummer Night’s Musings
by Katherine Nelson-Born
In between cloud games and applications of Coppertone
on the summer house rooftop, your hand slipped between my thighs.
Our tongues tasted the salt seasoning each other’s lips and skin
on an afternoon seared into memory.
My blue china bowl fell, cracked open, spilled bright red
crawfish rolling across the black asphalt roof shingles,
my napkin fluttering down the alley’s breezeway,
settling into sandy loam on the path to the Gulf
where you could wade for what seemed like miles
in the thigh-high waters of our youthful amour.
Twilight, a creamsicle sky melting into the horizon
takes me back — my fingers stroking your brown curls,
my lips a whisper in your ear in tune with the radio’s
tinny “Puppy Love” ode to teenage lust.
Shadowed by the widow’s peak of Grandmother’s summer house,
we swapped baseball cards, kisses, stole illicit bases, delighted
that beneath us our mothers, none the wiser in afternoon heat,
alternated between dabbing brows with starched handkerchiefs
and lifting china cups of painted peonies, pinkies just so,
delicate crooks warding off bad behavior
with waves of disdain mirrored in silver servers of afternoon tea.
Meanwhile, cast iron pots out back welcomed mudbugs, boiling water
turning them crimson as they cooked like us in the late afternoon sun.
Maybe if I had resisted nibbling your sun-browned ear,
we would not have faced later years of broken china
fractured in pitching contests under roofs
grown too close over bodies grown too heavy
with the baggage of the familiar. For an afternoon
on a rooftop in June we aligned our tails and teacups
into a teenaged fiction untouched by truths
we would come to know soon enough, anyway.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Spending most of my life in the Deep South living or vacationing on beaches from Mississippi to Florida, my poetry is deeply influenced by my natural environment as well as the culture of that environment. My poems resonate with my love of the water, whether it’s gently spinning sand beachside or howling across bulkheads in hurricanes. My process includes having a journal always at hand, ready to catch that ephemeral moment, and the constant struggle to “make it new,” like my musings on Gulfport, Mississippi, 1972, which I share in “A Midsummer Night’s Musings.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Katherine Nelson-Born grew up in New Orleans and currently lives and writes in Pensacola, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alyss, Birmingham Poetry Review, Emerald Coast Review, Excelsior ReView, GSU Review, Longleaf Pine, Maple Leaf Rag and Penumbra. Her poetry earned “Honorable Mention” at the 2015 Alabama Writers Conclave, previously won the University of New Orleans/ Tennessee Williams Ellipsis award for poetry, and placed twice among finalists in the Agnes Scott College Writer’s Festival. Her premiere poetry chapbook, When Mockingbirds Sing, debuts 2016 from Finishing Line Press.