August, Still
Linda Parsons

August, Still

Still August, everything breathes slow
as sorghum, even the ragged blooms,
fever heat before the solstice, leaving
so late it feels like never. Each morning,

I step out on the mat for some relief,
the first cool before fall’s rust and rustle.
August, month of my father’s passing,
the dead of summer, hot as a firecracker,

he’d say, hot enough for a big plate
of watermelon he cut with a scalpel’s
sureness—long slice above the rind,
then down, then crossways, salting away

most of the sugar. He slurped the same
into the receiver, as if his watermelon kisses
could sweeten the miles of another sales trip.
Each week hitting the road, his restless

blood the piston, the steering, the accelerator
gunning his engine, even when the table
was set, the bags unpacked. Butter and sorghum
mashed into spun honey for biscuits

fueled his journey—Durham to Mobile
to Memphis. Both of us born to winter,
never summer’s children, I don’t know
which season he loved most, unsettled

as he was, but he took the end slow,
stopping food and drink in the nursing home,
no sugar or salt that week in August,
the season’s unhurried dying back,

a fallen leaf curling in on itself
as a certain chill crept in.

Linda Parsons

is the poetry editor for Madville Publishing and the copy editor for Chapter 16, the literary website of Humanities Tennessee. She is published in such journals as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Terrain, The Chattahoochee Review, Baltimore Review, and Shenandoah. Her sixth poetry collection, Valediction, is forthcoming from Madville in 2023. Five of her plays have been produced by Flying Anvil Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee.