Spring hangs leaves indiscriminately,
throws down dandelions onto vacant lots.
Another body is loosened from the canal bottom
by a cormorant gulping fresh spawn.
Councils purge piebald horses,
round them up for secret executions
as families tidy Tidy Town hopefuls,
blow dust from the paths
though it blows back in their faces,
blast moss from the stone wall at the crossroads
where the boy made his gallows speech
for stealing an apple
before he was hanged and wrapped
in the freshest sheet his skin had ever touched.
In these long-lit days women walk home
a different way, or a little later
or in less clothing.
Some regret it. Others know they could.
That old phrase of possession
meant as a deterrent:
Would you want someone to do that
to your own sister?
Imagine she is your daughter.

Though in that speech the boy said it:
The apple was not mine.
And was hanged anyway.
In my kitchen I get down
on hands and knees
and scrub floors the Alabama way
and think of kettlefuls
of boiling water poured down
women’s throats by priests
or members of the lay
and how some folks pressure-hosed
some others or hanged them
from live oak trees.