I have heard the news of Newtown, but, sister, please excuse this carburetor mouth on my lawnmower heart, buzzing along the perfumed fences of honeysuckle and morning glory, for I have tried to trim my long-windedness down as quietly as the maple leaf before me grows rusted, as a caterpillar bellying along along a mint sprig just is, as hushed as the jacaranda whose buds like snow go on coating the sidewalks with lavender, but I apologize for how I feel about this afternoon, how I hum on and on about the green hair of the growing world beneath me, for how I hum as if my teeth were bees, I hum and hum again, and I’m sorry, sister, for such humming because on a complicated August day like this, I had promised to tell you a secret about the woman across the street with a glass of what could only be lemon and melancholy in her left hand, the woman bowing her head in worship before the hibiscus bush with its orange faces that have peeled open like glorious orange bananas, and sister, just last night a man in work boots loved this woman so much, he wrecked his black Chevy through the front wall of her house and into her living room, but praise the gods of evening Salsa dance classes that the woman wasn’t home, and while they handcuffed the man in workboots, my wife and I drank drank boozy Arnold Palmers on our porch, and my wife’s nose washed in the swirling siren of lights was like the cross in the highest stained glass window of the Cocoa Beach Bible Church. Sister, the roots on the maple in my front yard are destroying my driveway, the surgeon who saved my ruptured spleen is dead of lymphoma, there was a shooting in Aurora, there was a shooting of another Syrian boy, a shooting in Orlando, a shooting in Fort Lauderdale, and there will be a shooting in Las Vegas in 2017, and there is racism, and there is rape, and there is a dragonfly like a tiny sparkling passenger plane that is at this moment with its lateral propellers fuzzing around a dead possum in the street. Sister, I’ve seen all of this, and do not think that I don’t care about the man in work boots and the hibiscus woman he loves and the sadness and mess of all the purple houses in this purple and assaulted world going dark, of the sun-scratched grass and hibiscus barely surviving. Do not think I don’t hear, daily, the language of dirt urging me down root-deep forever, but, sister, my wife for me sometimes on the porch with her tangerine toes is a big pair of bourbon sunglasses, and when I look through those lenses, sister, the breath of the Earth goes green and quiet behind me: a hot August day and the sunshine on my wife’s feet dangling off the porch.
Ephraim Scott Sommers is a poet and singer-songwriter from Atascadero, California. Most recently, his first book of poems, The Night We Set the Dead Kid on Fire, was awarded the 2016 Patricia Bibby First Book Award and was published by Tebot Bach Press in February of 2017. He received his PhD from Western Michigan University and his MFA from San Diego State University. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. For music and poems, please visit: http://www.ephraimscottsommers.com/