The Mock Orange at Night in Mid-July

Out of flower now,
yet I smell it and so
must the dogs who
know where the cardinal
was at noon and the red squirrel.
Who knows which
trace is truest –

this one as if someone took
a torch to pearled sugar,
crust on custard,
almost too sweet.
We, or at least I, rely
certain in seeing.
The moon is a firefly
in the pine, a silver flash
above the greenish
flare of beetles.

A not-too-hot night for sitting
on our patio, rocking, this essence
hovers faint, reminds me
I have a past, that other bush,
another night, another place
where the bloom shriveled.

The dogs stretch out as if
for sleep, but nose-alert –
last week we had skunk.
(Do they remember now
chewing out the raw snow
clotted in their paws
here where summer holds?)

Can I be as now as they are,
believe a perfume that fades
like maple syrup on the tongue?
Be present, calm and ready?

Where did I learn to suspect
transient sweets,
night beguilers,
memory hints
of one thing that really
is quite another.


Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet who watched the heartbreak heat in the west coast with increasing fear of the impacts of climate change. She is about to plant a mock orange in her garden.

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