Giant ragweed season, cotton happing across blue sky
floating itinerants. It is warm again,
the gypsy caravans loiter off the highway.
Colored skirts sway, catch on smartweed
tagged with tiny stickery seeds that cling to hems,
feet guide them to the flashing neon lights that cry town
bracelets singing in the dusk.
Sitting at the reception desk of my motel
I observe different weeds emerging
left out of control they will get a jump
on farmers and gardeners,
choke the hardiest variety of black-bearded wheat
that belts the town most of the summer.
Years of neglect here, the half-moons on my nails
sinking into grime, black as those girls’ eyes
reflected in the motel’s neon.
Weeds grow around the cracked swimming pool
they are drawn to my light. I watch them come
fluttery as moths -
they are bad for business.
First year of the dust bowl and I was only seven,
no crops grew, only Johnson weed abounded
where the wind blew insatiable, dust and its thirst
entered the house, got into linen drawers, penetrated
pristine folds of Sunday handkerchiefs.
We watched weeds cover soil, baked and broken.
Mother boxed up our seedy linen
and dulled handkerchiefs. We sold the farm
moved to the vacant Dandy Motel
a squat cinderblock stop-over on the edge of town.
There are shadows at the street corner -
the gypsy girls with velvet eyes and conniving laughter
ankles agile as their feet slap summer pavement.
When the traffic stops they bend to car windows
insistent, wild as dandelions gone to seed.
Hair swaying, drawing the future from men’s hands
as they reach in, not waiting to be invited, their voices
tinkling tin floating on night air, dispersing
under dimming stars,
moths flying in streetlight haloes over their heads.