The Taste of Rust in August

Knoxville afternoons in summer, lightning on the air.                                                                                                         The horses
whinny, nervous; the chickens roost.

Our chain-link fence is rusty. I like to taste it— that
metallic
clean I imagine to be the flavor

of lightning. My brother was hit once, carrying a metal
bucket to water the animals. It burned

his arm and left a funny taste in his mouth. Mother says
I have
always sucked on spoons,

licked lampposts, iron grates, jewelry.
She goes crazy about the germs.

She says I do it because of what she calls iron-poor
blood
and it’s
true—there’s no rust in my skin at all,

dull and transparent as wax paper.
I run around the yard for hours, chasing the lightning,

tracing those fractal lines in the sky with my fingers as
the smell
of ozone drives the dogs crazy.

— Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter

T. S. Poetry

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