We share this common irritant: the smoke of distant fires.
It scalded the morning and evening sun
ember red, then hung a net of haze over the city.
After two days, friends are confined indoors, wheezing.
My throat is raw, sinuses ache.
Now dark clouds rise from the mountain.
The day after the election, police in Alton Park
stop black residents up and down the Boulevard,
as if it is Apartheid, or a new Jim Crow.
My son is driving, stopped in traffic, radio blaring.
A cop on a motorcycle passes, hangs a U, comes back,
tickets him for going 50 in a 35 mile zone.
“Yes sir,” is the drill we instilled
when we had the Talk all parents have
with their sons of color.
Five miles over the state line in Georgia,
a white boy walks the high school parking lot,
a Confederate flag tied at his neck like a cape.
Later, black students yank it from his backpack,
stomp on it, igniting threats of a race war.
My eyes are burning. Smoke threads through
the indoors air in the gym and large commons.
We choke on the fire of distant words.
© 2019, Rachel Landrum Crumble