They’ve found a way

Sometime past the solstice summer
will kick up dust, shuffling
down a dirt road in scuffed
Converse. If he asks, about to pass
you by, you’re waiting for the fall,
when sweet breezes blow in;
and if you look to the north,
you can almost see autumn, but
for now summer’s heat pervades and you catch a whiff
of him
as he walks by –
sweat, of course, slick
as first rain’s oil on city streets,
and beneath it strawberries,
over-ripe,
and red as rays
of light left after
blue has blown away,
red as lazy, lightly sunburnt skin.

You smell cheap beer on him under
it all, and dry brush and scents
so fused with tattered clothes they seem
woven in. Grass stains on knees
of jeans
and the soles of his shoes.
He wears a white tee, faded,
about the color of his chapped nostrils,
which breathe in the dust and
dirt in shallow draughts.
A flick of fingers sends
the brim of a red ball
cap to his crown,
and beneath the light,
colorless hair
covering his head,
dim, diuretic eyes
and a crooked smile.
He pulls at several days’ scruff
with blistered, damaged digits,
black strips of flaky skin and dirt and food and blood under
every fingernail.

A dry wind sweeps in, northbound, as he ambles off,
and brings with it the stale, sweet smell
of death arcing
off the young, sunsucked man to the south –
a scent of Paris,
of the Seine
in hot August heat:
of elderly French madames
in stuffy tenements,
lying still in bath water brought
near the boiling point
by his relentless assault upon the
Bastille walls.

And as he stops, and turns, and takes
one last look
at you, the high noon
sun hits him from above,
and summer’s shady face is not a cheery color
of wild strawberries, but
a deeper crimson,
blotchy and purplish, like the cheeks
of a child left in the backseat of a car
on a June afternoon with the windows
rolled
up.
And as
he touches cracked white palms to a sweaty forehead,
brushing the hair from his face, behind his hands
his eyes spark with wanderlust of a dog
when the Fourth of July has
brought him out of his cage
to run spooked and mad
with pads raw and red dripping
into the streets.

Summer drops his hand
to his side,
and his thumb leaves a thin streak of blood down
the right side of his face, red
on red on red;
and he turns, and he walks on,
and the northbound wind resumes, whipping up
dust in all directions.

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About allisunknown

26 year-old student, tutor, and writer. Write for http://www.spectrumculture.com. Also nascent pedestrian advocate. Twitter handles: twitter.com/joeclinkenbeard twitter.com/PedInPDX
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