June Twenty-first

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.


© Bruce Guernsey

Bruce Guernsey is a Professor of English at Eastern Illinois University, where he has taught the past 23 years. In 1992 he received for his teaching the Distinguished Professor Award from the Board of Governors of the Illinois University system. He has also held two Fulbright Teaching Fellowships.