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Nightly Rites of a Florida Childhood #1

by Kyle Singleton


In Florida we eat lightning,
sitting inside our screened-in patio
the white framing black with dust and mosquitos.
We wait for static to rifle through the air
mouths open, tongue licking for a shock
to remind us all that we are still there:

iiiiiiiiiiiiiJulie in the cracked white wicker chair
iiiiiiiiiiiiichair wearing grandma’s Santa Claus blanket
iiiiiiiiiiiiilike a shawl, Tyler pressed in the back corner
iiiiiiiiiiiiihoping to Jesus we all don’t burn like the lemon tree,
iiiiiiiiiiiiimom watching through the window too afraid
iiiiiiiiiiiiiof the way a storm shouts but never whispers,
iiiiiiiiiiiiiand dad squeezing my shoulder to keep me
iiiiiiiiiiiiifrom leaning too fair out and busting through
iiiiiiiiiiiiithose flimsy screens.

Dad sighs slow about the grandeur and mysteries of God,
What a show he puts on for his children. Maybe
we should say a prayer of gratefulness. 
But I don’t have time
to pray. I am waiting for a strike to hit the basketball hoop
because the only thing that will lay me down
to peace at night is the fresh scent of fried ozone. And lord,
how well I sleep.