Under the round lens, the leaf: a raised hide, dragon skin, ruddy sweet- gum, parched edges lit and trembling, and into the leaf we bent flat sun to make smoke: to summon the mean angels that haunted this neighborhood, giving its curbs their moans and its snake holes their dank shine. Our shoulders circled in for dance or witness— to sing the dry trees some cinder song. Our mothers were inside asleep on their feet in their kitchens, their white TVs whispering spells of Dinah Shore and Dial, their calendars shrinking the days to bleached boxes. The angels wrapped their silver feet in cold leaf-shields and came for us then on a train beyond the orchard. We felt their freight seize the black woods and shake the asphalt down. Our fathers were miles off measuring the speed of the train with all their chrome instruments. We didn’t fear cancer, whiskey, desire bending its sinews across another’s bones— we held the lens, let judgment drive sun into an eye of light on a leaf and open it to see the hour burn.

SALLY ROSEN KINDRED, a native of Greensboro, NC, and a graduate of Duke University, lives in Maryland. Her first full-length poetry collection is No Eden (Mayapple Press, 2011). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2009, Blackbird, Cave Wall, and Verse Daily.