Sumner sat in her tiny back yard, in the cold of December,
drinking hot coffee, looking up at the smattering of stars
that shone through the lights of the city.
An Amtrak train passed right past her backyard, shaking
the rickety wooden fences that separated everyone’s yards,
the horn howling out into the darkness like a wounded demon.
When she was little, Sumner imagined riding on one of the
trains that passed behind her house, heading to New York City
or Boston, somewhere far from her broken world.
She dreamed no longer of such things. No place offered freedom.
The Devil was everywhere. The Devil could not be escaped.
The Devil had conquered the world.
There was an itch in her brain this night, a thorn in her thoughts,
of the one who she thought loved her, who’d left her behind.
She fearfully, tenderly, touched her belly.
The trains couldn’t take her to a better world,
she could not escape her world, broken and growing dark.
The fight was here, in her house, with her family.
She went inside, down into her room, to the small closet,
In the dark she went on her knees to fight The Enemy,
to fight for the hope of the world, to find the love in The Light.
Irene is older now, almost forty like me.
I still see the young woman in her face,
Me and Charlotte play a pick-up game of Soccer in heaven, the day is done.
Hot sun and shiny sweat and matted hair, heavy breaths, we are having fun.
The poison pours out as we laugh and run and kick the ball on fresh cut turf.
The sweat takes the salt of tears and of life, evaporates away the sins of earth.
We grow young, clean and sweet, like before in those childhood summers past.
The light is back in her eyes, the softness is in my heart again; this time it will last.
Blue, blue sky above and the eye of the sun, and the days that will never end now.
I chase her down the field and she is fast and kicks it past the edge of the grass.
She cheers and jumps and blows me a kiss, full of fire and grit and indomitable sass.
She smiles as I retrieve the ball, and dribble towards her, welcoming the fight.
She smiles, wide and bright, as she tries to stop me now, and all is good and right.
Tonight, our mother the moon will kiss us goodnight with her silver incandescence.
Me and Charlotte will cuddle up close, pure and warm, death, loss cast off in obsolescence
I’ll kiss her head, bury my face in her hair, and we’ll share a dream of crashing blue water.
We are again innocent and soothed by Eden, a perfect son and her an unbroken daughter.
Awake in the night, watching sparse snow flakes fall,
wishing I could see the demon that is out there,
that can see me so clearly.
Hot, black coffee, because what is sleep? What are dreams?
Rebekah is in my mind, poetess, the impossible good thing.
Not her, not any other woman, will ever be at my side in these moments.
I lay down in my bed, knowing there is no hiding from the demon, he knows all.
My enemy is closer to me than any passing women ever was, knows me true.
The snow stops, the night goes on, and I dream of being innocent.
Of kissing Rebekah on our wedding day.
She’s wearing a long sleeved white sweater,
black capri pants, and plain white tennies.
Mother is fussing over her, smoothing her hair,
telling her it will be alright, she doesn’t need lucky pennies.
Her first date tonight, something like a normal kid,
something good in this world that’s taken so much.
She turns to me, the one found her that cold night,
when she was almost lost, beyond the sun’s touch.
Her eyes hopeful, but unsure, calling for reassurance.
I smile kiss her head, tell her it will be real swell time.
She smiles, all light from a vibrating star, her light
finally escaping a black hole, making dreams rhyme.
I take her picture, wanting to hold onto this moment,
hopeful and beautiful and sweet, after we almost lost her.
The demon did not win, we saved her in time, but he is patient.
I know that darkness falls again, can’t defeat, only defer.
The doorbell rings, and she squeals and is so ecstatic.
She found a boy who loves her, who will be her brave one.
Me and mother hug her, and then she runs to the door.
The boy is there, hugging her tight, consolation for what can’t be undone.
Ice cream blonde, hair bright, a silken halo falling down
over her American Flag bikini top.
She laughs and smiles like a child, writing her name in the dark
with the burning sparkler.
Even know, after it all, she laughs and smiles like a child, so free,
in this sweet moment.
Fourth of July and the sky explodes in color and fire and smoke,
and her halo shines back it’s light.
Independence Day, maybe we’ll be independent of the past,
of mistakes and the things that hurt us.
Declare we are one now, again, and the sweetness will come.
Maybe we’ll make love…
…….really make love, with tenderness and hope and softness,
and actually grow close in a touch.
The sparkler reaches it’s end, and she exclaims, asks for another,
to write her name in the dark again
where it will last and be eternal and kept and cherished by all.
Let this be Independence Day.