It’s not so much the shadow of the tree.
That’s bad enough, I must admit--
To see its silhouette there on the ground
Long after the tree was taken down.
It’s not even the awful shadow of the tree’s strange fruit
That hangs from the end of a rope-like vine,
Like some oversized mandrake
With two sepals shaped like human feet.
No, of all things, it’s the smell
That clings to everything like a gruesome curry
When I travel up Roswell Road
Then toward the courthouse on Park Square,
Where deputies, like liveried servants of some dark lord,
Aggressively search me from head to foot
To make sure that I do not smuggle the smallest mercy,
Like a weapon, into court.
Long after justice has been done and I return home,
I close my eyes and shut out the shadows,
But the smell remains for months.