Tournesol

In the blazing light of the early summer evening,

we match pace down the row.

You make me a little nervous because

you’re just as quiet as me, so

I fill the space with the first thought that comes to mind.

 

Tournesol, I say,

gently holding the flower head in one hand while the other runs quickly down the stalk,

stripping leaves in one quick

snapsnapsnap motion.

 

You squint in my direction,

hand shielding your eyes,

head cocked, waiting.

 

Sunflower in French is tournesol.

‘Turn sun,’ I translate, because

sunflowers turn their heads to follow the sun.

 

I’m swimming neck-high in sticky yellow blooms,

bare feet anchored to still-warm ground.

I stand on my toes to meet your eyes over their heads as I tell you these things

I know you’re pretending to find interesting

just to be nice.

 

You’re a carpenter.

you deal in hard, dry lumber,

ready to be hammered into place,

boards and planks that fall before your saws and nails,

bending lifeless to your will and once there,

unchanging. 

 

What of these beings,

tall as nearly grown-up children,

heeding the commands of

some far-off star?

 

I fall silent and

you’re more than happy to

let the snapsnapsnap replace the sounds

of such meaningless information.

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