This, he said, giving the hickory leaf to me. Because I am poor. And he lifted my hand to his lips, kissed the fingers that might have worn gold rings if he had inherited bottomland, not this impossible rock where the eagles soared after the long rains were over. He stood in the wet grass, his open hands empty, his pockets turned inside out. Queen of the Meadow, he teased me and bowed like a gentleman. I licked the diamonds off the green tongue of the leaf, wanting only that he fill his hands with my hair.
From Wildwood Flower, by Kathryn Stripling Byer, published by Louisiana State University Press, 1992. Copyright © 1992 by Kathryn Stripling Byer. All rights reserved. Used with permission.