On the Corner of 5th and Orange

the three of us turn
right. Past the iron fence

wrapped in raspberry, thick
with bee song and morning

glory’s violet, the tree’s jaw
and its opera throat hitting

all the right notes. Past
the in-between,

the alley with its
arched back and vine-covered

belly, full of ivy and other
tender wrappings. Until, yes—

there. The brick house
and its moss steps, its

spires a kingdom to
which I assume myself

an outsider, the chest
on the porch with its copper

buckle iris. A man sits on
his chair, rocks in the shade of

North Carolina’s heat, and lifts
his newsboy cap—a patchwork

of all good things—and says, unpresuming,
Gentlemen. We nod, a synchronization

of my quiet inclusion. Neither
my partner nor friend corrects him,

neither turns to me
in apology, quick to speak

for this old man’s slip,
while my boy heart grows

wild with birth, my spine
straightening into joy, the secret

fabric of my makeup,
exhausted wanting, seen.




Image: Historic American Buildings Survey