With Summer Purpled Awe
No one wants to be forgotten
or remembered for the wrong reasons,
but how do we attain that sweet spot
between regrettable and a barred
door clanking shut? I was born in
Louisiana. What happened next
is that song living at the edge of
memory, just beyond grasp, its
lyrics gnarled and tangled in the
roots of an old cypress along a
muddy creek. Yeah, that one. I
won’t sing it in this lifetime.
That tune’s never coming back.
You stretch out your hands
and a reflection cuts you in half.
I should have grabbed you and the dog,
and headed to Texas. They’ve got hills
there that the tide won’t reach, and
trees that won’t die from salt
poisoning, whose branches
won’t be festooned with children’s
clothing and bits of people’s torn
lives, and the stench won’t linger
longer than regret and the effect
of poor choice and dumb luck.
There, then gone. I scream
until my voice rasps away
but you are still out there,
still floating, still afraid
and angry and beautiful, hair
forming a halo around your
face, no tears, no sound
but water lapping, and
the flies zeroing in.
Next time there will be no party.
I’ll wait alone to greet the rain.
The wind will scour me
as I embrace what comes.
“With Summer Purpled Awe” was my 28th offering for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project last August. Many thanks to Charlotte Hamrick who sponsored and provided the title.
I’ll be reading with other Tupelo Press 30-30 alums tomorrow evening, Friday, April 15, at Malvern Books in Austin.