Small Rites Bites: poem, to be 13


photo by Ginny Schneider

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 . . . .

June Twenty-first

Bruce Guernsey

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.

5 thoughts on “Small Rites Bites: poem, to be 13

  1. Isn’t that a lovely vignette! Perfect for the season too. At the age of 53 I kind of feel in one of those in-between places, too. Not old enough to truly understand the weight of many years in my bones, but carrying just enough to be reminded by minor creaks and aches in the morning’s rising.

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