Night-blooming datura

It’s the time of year when the night-blooming datura starts flowering again.
On the corners of West Selden and Morton,
right next and across from to Apollo’s Fine Furniture,
where you can “Rent-2-own, down-pay or buy.”
The smell of Pit Stop B-B-Q’s charcoal perfumes the air,
that and motor oil and ozone from the automobile shop
whose bay doors stand open, even at eleven at night.

You’ve never been able to drive in the right lane,
not just past the night-blooming datura– you’ve got to switch to the left,
because the collards at Pit Stop– they are amazing.
(And don’t get me started on their chopped beef.)
The double-parked cars in the right lane,
the ones that don’t use their hazards?
They’re there for good reason, all down the block.

When I first started driving through this part of town,
the weedy patch was just one or two flowers,
flopped-over white tubular blooms,
deep green palmate leaves fading into the black of the night, the dark of the dirt.
(I don’t think the people who planted it could afford the grass seed for the corner patch, too.)
The cops were always out, dealing with some shooting,
a staged crash, a domestic or something, while curtains twitched shut and storefronts stared empty.

Now, though, there are new awnings, beauty parlors and restaurants, phone vendors and “all service” places.
People sit out on their stoops.
And while you still can’t drive in the right lane–
(the mac and cheese is as good as the collards, and did I mention the chicken?)
The night-blooming datura has spread from those first three weedy flowers
on one corner to two– thick, vibrant patches, knee high and wide, spreading over the bounds.
Someone’s planted more night-blooming flowers in orangey colors, and the night isn’t just black and white anymore.


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