Mock Orange

Everything on the tongue goes stunned bird.
Long past the hissy-fit thralls of April,
rashes of phlox, purple thistle snowing a little. 
And then, like too much love, 
there was altogether too much gardenia
in the huddled yards. The heat in a flick of wind 
picked itself up and dragged off, 
old dog, into the damp cane fields, bee drone, 
sighing, sighing of highway, hawks’ cries. 
A screen door slammed lightly. 
A woman hummed nonsense to herself. 
The thousand burnt-orange camellias 
bent in rot, long past wisteria,
long past bitter kumquat, past the sweet white ache 
of mock orange— it was not God, 
but those lithe lord gods themselves, 
mocking birds, intoning every other voiced thing 
from dirt-slicked limbs of magnolias, until, distracted, 
they tipped past the waxed leaves the sun makes silver of; 
not God, lord gods; not love, insistence, disregard.

(Five Points; Winner of the Yeats Award)