Nightly Topic

by LaVern Spencer McCarthy

Summer nights on the porch,
conversation would begin
            with fair-weather hymns
and corn-field benedictions—
no hint of the apocalypse at first.
Then, my uncle would spit,
and it would be time to preach
            about my sister.

No letter had arrived with postage
stamp from far away places—
no foot-prints on the dusty road,
            love, coming back.

Coughs, sighs, scraping of chairs
evolved into a murmur
that became as strong as
the whirlwind that took Elijah—
how my sister with painted face
and red high-heels should be
            banished forever.

My uncles agreed and said amen,
but before I went to bed
I’d catch a handful of fireflies
as prayers in my window
            to light her way home.

© 2021 LaVern Spencer McCarthy  All rights reserved.

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