A colored man come running at me out of the woods
one Sunday morning about twenty years past.
The Junior Choir was going to be singing
at Primitive Baptist over in Notasulga,
and we were meeting early, to practice.
I remember wishing I was barefoot
in the heavy, cool-looking dew.
And suddenly this tall, rawbone wild man
come puffing out of the woods, shouting
Come see! Come see!
Seemed like my mary-janes just stuck
to the gravel. Girl, my heart
like to abandon ship!
Then I saw by the long tin cylinder
slung over his shoulder on a leather strap,
and his hoboish tweed jacket
and the flower in his lapel
that it was the Professor.
He said, gesturing,
his tan eyes a blazing,
that last night,
walking in the full moon light,
he'd stumbled on
a very rare specimen:
the Night-blooming Wild Petunia.
Said he suddenly sensed a fragrance
and a small white glistening.
It was clearly a petunia:
The yellow future beckoned
from the lip of each tubular flower,
a blaring star of frilly, tongue-like petals.
He'd never seen this species before.
As he tried to place it,
its flowers gaped wider,
catching the moonlight.
suffusing the night with its scent.
All night he watched it
promise silent ecstasy to moths.
If we hurried, I could see it
before it closed to contemplate
Hand in hand, we entered
the light-spattered morning-dark woods.
Where he pointed was only a white flower
until I saw him seeing it.