by Jo Angela Edwins
It’s May here.
The sun is still high
at almost six, and yet we can hear
in the distance the loud calls
of mating owls, the evening criers
of a chartreuse spring. The noise-worshipping
neighbors across the street are gone
for the evening. Here on this porch
yellowed with pollen and so much dust
I sit and watch the neighborhood cats
eat the kibble I scatter across the brick steps.
I wonder where the neighbors are now
in this year when disease swirls in the air,
but there are places to go, so many
bistros and bowling alleys opened to the touch
of believers who disbelieve. I wish I knew
the heady high of being fearless, being
feckless. A breeze stirs, and I turn
my gaze to our narrow street
where a child this morning drew long-haired
figures in chalk across the gray asphalt.
Girls in pink dresses, girls reaching across
undefined lanes with arms long as telephone
poles, arms nothing more than yellow
lines, arms touching no one and nothing.
Now and then, a car drives over the bodies.
The cats chew their kibble, and I wonder
if the piles that I feed them will keep them
from breaking the necks of those smaller than they.
Science tells me no. In the distance
the owls still hoot. They would devour the babies
of these hungry cats, if they found them.
In back rooms of shopping malls,
managers count money, a fraction of which
will be theirs. Soon the child with the chalk
will return. I will watch her draw more children
in the street. I will tell this story, a story she never
will know that I tell. Soon enough, a sedan
will approach, moving slowly. I will watch as the child
will dutifully rise, step quickly, as someone
must have taught her, to the safety of the shoulder grass.
Jo Angela Edwins is the first poet laureate of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. Her chapbook Play was published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press. She has received awards from Poetry Super Highway, Winning Writers, and the South Carolina Academy of Authors. Brooklyn-based artist Gina Magid has been the recipient of numerous awards including Guggenheim Foundation and McDowell Colony fellowships. She has had solo exhibitions at Feature Inc., Artists Space, and Ana Cristea Gallery in New York and Acuna Hansen Gallery in Los Angeles.