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
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
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
of ozone drives the dogs crazy.
— Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter
T. S. Poetry