Poetry from Tonya Eberhard


After dessert there is a lull.
Forks devour the patriotic cake,
scrape up red and blue frosting smeared
on paper plates. The mosquitos are lazy.
Weak flyers—they hover out of reach
from candles coughing smoke. Star-
spangled napkins take flight with the
wind. Life hasn’t exhausted you yet.
You cry on the short drive to the lake
about all the things I forgot how to
understand. Even when we lay down a
blanket after staking out a spot, you
cannot keep still. There is too much to
take in: people that go by with blankets
and bug spray, children waving glow sticks.
The world is so different when you can travel
on legs. I close my eyes and think of good
things—health, breathing, unpolluted living.
The boy I met this summer. There is no
impatience waiting for the sky to darken.
I’ve seen it a dozen times and wish it would
take longer. Past sunset, your mother rocks you to
sleep. Mother—the schoolgirl who
hid my library books in her desk,
snickering over my panic. Mom—the girl
who laughed at me for writing poetry for
middle school boys that would never
love back, even if they knew what love was.
Someday you will understand the words
Be kind to your mother, like I did when I
was twenty-one, filled with guilt, sharp and
mean. For now, she hums to you as you
sleep. You cannot hear her voice or the noise—
but I will tell you, every organized boom is a
lullaby. Those are the things you must
fight for in this torn world as
explosions tear at the untouchable sky.

Tonya Eberhard‘s most recent work has appeared in DuM dUm zine & press, Picaroon Poetry, and Shantih Journal. She lives in Minnesota.

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