In the last heat, little puffs of fog
lift off the marsh like white birds,
and although she is kept in the yard
by the old frying pan faced maid,
Janet knows where in the reed beds
the South Wind lies down with the North,
hidden from prying eyes. She
looks, dandelion fluff floating,
over the spiked poles of the fence,
the marsh road, its potholes filled
with sand and shells, to where a battered
Ford sits, rolled down windows
letting the salt air tell what creek
this is. Its family, some with scythes,
bend to their work, rusty baseball caps
pulled down, green rubber boots planted
to hack through swamp roots, sweet grass
cuts staining thumbs and fingers,
leaving trickles of blood for the marsh gods.
A skirt is sweeping over the floor
like that of a fairytale girl kept by an ogre.
Her long hair’s crowned with yellow
flowers, their delicate, invasive odor.
The scrape of his chair legs draws closer:
“You’re wearing the evidence!” he rasps—
surprising himself—through his nose,
cawing from his high branch. Seen
but not heard is how he wants her,
a fledgling shadow. And so she has learned
their stealth, how they slip around
tables and out through door locks,
with thieves straying to pick wild flowers.