Smells of gunpowder from July Fourth fireworks
mix with honeysuckle, wet earth, and freshly caught fish.
She race-walks along the riverside
hoping nature can tame the painful remembrances
surrounding her least favorite season.
Years have passed since that phone call
crushed her soul.
The sun sweat-soaks her blouse
so she slows her pace trying to avoid
comparing the heat to that of four years ago
when the sky was the same shade of cloudless blue
and the grass turned brown from lack of rain.
She stops to absorb the beauty of a buckeye tree that has
surpassed summer altogether,
leaves turning red, orange, yellow.
She longs to do that — skip the season,
sidestep the anniversary of her son’s murder,
travel from tulips and budding trees,
right into crisp air, crunching leaves.
Bypass all summers so she could attend
his wedding instead of his funeral,
so his sense of humor and generous spirit
could be wrapped in her arms,
not spilled on the sidewalk
during a pocket change robbery.
She picks a buckeye pod from the ancient tree,
hoping it will cover over the remembering,
keep her boy forever safe in her heart.
Eight-leggeds creep across vacuumed floors,
up paneled walls, into coffee mugs.
Screams, flying shoes halt their adventures,
send them scurrying into darkened corners.
A young burn victim enters a Quick Mart
creasing his disfigured face with a smile,
anticipating a grape snow cone.
Avoidant glances erase the smile,
forcing him out the door without his frozen treat.
A wrinkled and stooped old man
mumbles his way down the sidewalk.
Words of pity and turning heads
drive him deeper into his detached world.
Two children push their obese mother’s wheelchair
across a street to the steepled building.
Bursts of laughter bow their heads,
covering them in benedictions of embarrassment.
Empathy can smooth over differences,
like a trowel across wet cement,
sooth damaged feelings,
level the playing field, and
release tears of joy.
Karen Wolf has an undergraduate degree in education from the University of Toledo and a Master of Arts degree from Bowling Green State University. She has retired from a 30 year teaching career and is semi-retired from her own pet sitting company. She has been published in Smokey Blue Literary and Art Magazine and Dime Store Review. She says that poetry soothes the savage beast and opens her eyes to the beauty that abounds within the world.