Another great “rite of passage” poem added to my collection, perhaps now to yours. It captures the vulnerability of that in-between time, that liminal space, that threshold between childhood and adulthood. The awkwardness, the newness, the silent floating question, “so, do I now sit at the kids’ table or the adults’ table?” We all know that moment deep down inside, Bruce Guernsey has been able to capture a bit of it for us . . . .
My mother’s cigarette flares and fades,
the steady pulse of a firefly,
on the patio under the chestnut.
The next door neighbors are over.
My father, still slender, is telling a joke:
laughter jiggles in everyone’s drinks.
On his hour’s reprieve from sleep,
my little brother dances
in the sprinkler’s circle of water.
At fourteen, I’m too old
to run naked with my brother,
too young to laugh with my father.
I stand there with my hands in my pockets.
The sun refuses to set,
bright as a penny in a loafer.