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
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.