This, he said, giving the hickory leaf
by Kathryn Stripling Byer
to me. Because I am poor.
And he lifted my hand to his lips,
kissed the fingers that might have worn
gold rings if he had inherited
bottomland, not this
impossible rock where the eagles soared
after the long rains were over. He stood
in the wet grass, his open hands empty,
his pockets turned inside out.
Queen of the Meadow, he teased me
and bowed like a gentleman.
I licked the diamonds off the green
tongue of the leaf, wanting only
that he fill his hands with my hair.