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.