by Jennifer Crow

Summer swells in the slow
heat of afternoon,
ripening in a rich sheath of red.
The scent intoxicates, reminding
every man who breathes it in
of heady nights wrapped in silk
and promises whispered in the rustle
of leaves. The first lover steps
into the embrace of the vines,
cries out as the thorns dig deep
into his flesh. Briers kiss the cuts
and flutter like his pulse--
his struggles smear cool sap against
hot skin and drive the spines deeper.
The rest watch. Fear sprouts,
tangling, spreading its roots
in their minds until they flee
or find themselves caught in a green web.
A last glance flies like a raven
to land on the battlements above
where tales cradle a girl
asleep in a bower of brambles,
and hopes drowse, growing fat
on the wine of summer’s heat.

Jennifer Crow claims that blueberries are her favorite fruit, because they're stealthy, and taste like sunshine and ashes. However, since she's a professional liar, her answers can never be trusted. If you can believe it, her work has appeared in a number of genre print and electronic publications, including Abyss & Apex, Star*Line, and the recent anthology "Bondage" from Sam's Dot. To learn more about her work, feel free to check out her blog.