Escaped to Tell

Jason Sommer

No reason in the world for driving so
fast except you absolutely have to

get to your son in trouble in these hills—
in custody, a Southern sheriff versus

a high school boy: a rescue this is, no less,
through darkling Georgia, but what will rescue you?

The rain storms torrents into the ditches,
gouts across the windshield, sheets

over the road in the amber headlights
of the rental, pocked as beaten bronze,

and you are not exactly riding a wave
of luck yourself of late: late sister,

late brother, too early ferried over
that other river, and then your father, also.

New prisms in each eyeglass lens
do help with the persistent double vision,

but you can see the setting clearly enough.
In the wind, the tall pines blade-bend

in actual multiples, the slash of each branch,
the road’s scythe-curves,

quick-lit in lightning, slicing left,
slicing right. The edge you have

against the ridiculous abundance
of bad enough and worse still,

as much as the anxious ownership
of fatherhood, to bring you through

for him and back to us, is that even
fully in the midst of everything

you’re half aware of what a hell
of a story it’s going to be. Is.

More by Jason Sommer

Children Wearing My Shoes

My children have put on my shoes, the pair
of them, male and female we made them—

and boots with laces trailing; the shoes, mates—
the boy and girl not, often

contenders, all together now in this.
First, the single pair divided between them

without dispute, one shoe off, one shoe on,
feet lost in them, leg in up to the shin.

At the limp-and-drag pass in front of my chair,
I put my book down, but they turn away

before I can speak, kicking the footwear
into the corner and gone

back to the closet and back again in motley,
mad-shod, a singleton on each foot—

the separated twins of his sneaker and slipper,
her mismatch of sandals.

They crisscross the room, quickening the shuffle
to slam the heels on the floorboards,

not looking at me, not answering
to their names, intent on

the performance only, looking past
even each other, a flash of the whites of eyes

rolling, mouths open, the spooked-horse look,
and a few cries of half-stifled laughter,

but the fourth wall kept intact
as they discard onto the little mound

in the corner and race out to return
with two pairs undivided on each,

old loafers on her, but he’s gone formal:
processional glide of the long sedans

of gleaming black brogues, brougham
hearses. I am here I want to tell them, still here.