17 Kinds of Hungry

Until around sundown, the surviving
lilies in the yard stay wide open,
like the window of a car passing
on a hot day. No music from the flowers,
but they smell like somebody’s fragrant
soap unwrapped on a dish edged
with daisies. All those smells expressing
themselves haphazardly like a band
trying to tune up. Escape is what I’ve wanted
since I was little, cramped in summertime
Section 8: flowers everywhere,
my bird-legged brother a couple steps
back, my sister book-nosed somewhere
in the radius of us. Just a deciduous minute 
when the blossom of noises
was from my own AM radio & not my thin
stomach. No more backtalks, no more
slapbacks. Just a quick inhale before
I tiptoed out the front door. Unlatch, turn,
run away. Escape, as Indiana bats wheeled
up top, chirping sonorous somethings.
I ran under them & to the bus, past
those long-necked lilies, self-congratulatory
in their exploded colors. Their purples leaned
the way June does, their reds hot as the woman’s
attitude waiting at the bus stop while
the #17 scooted past without picking us up.

Copyright © 2024 by Adrian Matejka. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 19, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.