Published on Academy of American Poets (

Escaped to Tell

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.


Copyright © 2013 Jason Sommer. This poem originally appeared in The Laughter of Adam and Eve (Southern Illinois University Press, 2013). Used with permission of the author.



Jason Sommer

Jason Sommer is the author of The Laughter of Adam and Eve (Southern Illinois University Press, 2013), winner of the Crab Orchard Series Open Competition; The Man Who Sleeps in My Office (University of Chicago Press, 2004); Other People’s Troubles (University of Chicago Press, 1997); and Lifting the Stone (Forest Books, 1991). He is the recipient of a Whiting Award, among other honors.

Date Published: 2018-08-17

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