July, Georgia

The boy fell asleep on me
Two decades into the Sorrowful Mysteries.
Mid-July, ninety-one degrees at noon.
From the road, the shade under the
Pecan trees looks like little Edens.
Sweat dribbles down my face, not
Blood, no crown of thorns, just the
Same old shit I like to sharpen and
Carry like some second-hand cross.
The boy snores on my shoulder and
It feels like Hell outside. Summer,
Georgia. The cicadas sing me along
And I listen. Their faith is known, as
Much as their fate. To be so delicate,
So fixed in place. The Chinese poets said
Life is lived in little moments. And I
Suppose death is died in the same way.
Turning the corner there’s a man pulling
Pieces of a turtle from his lawnmower.
I know the turtle. The boy and I have
Watched its contemplative walk from
The grass to the river every morning.
I’m glad he’s asleep. I feel sad watching
The man toss bits of the shell onto his
Driveway as he cusses-out the turtle.
Hell outside. The heat and cicada drone,
Enough to make you scream at dead things.
I continue on with my prayer, The Crowning
Of the Thorns. My prayers taste like the
Sea and I feel my sons chest rise and fall.
I pray, but it’s only mechanical. My mouth
Says the words while my heart figures
Out what I’ll tell my son when the turtle
Isn’t there tomorrow, or the tomorrow
After that.

Spencer K. M. Brown is an award-winning poet and novelist. He is the author of the novels Move Over Mountain (2019) and Hold Fast (Fall, 2022). He currently lives in North Carolina with his wife and son.

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