Orange smoky sunset with trees

Letter to America by Jennifer Bullis

One Poem

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The summer the sun hid

not behind clouds        it was the summer of no rain here

the summer democracy clacked and thumped

            with its loosening parts

the summer the sun began blazing orange through smoke

            of close and distant forests burning

the summer the moon at night stared orange

            bloodshot        alarming

sprays of cedars in the median at the entrance to my street               orange


one week the smoke cleared               the sun hid partly behind the moon

made a show               in the sky        but what I loved were the crescent suns

between every shadow on the ground            formed in the spaces between leaves

innumerable crescents on the sidewalk          the roadway    the dove-gray garage door

every little crescent an anomaly                     a reverie                      a marvel

the summer I was that woman watering cedar trees with two one-gallon jugs

            I filled with my garden hose               drove down my street in my automobile       

                        emptied them in the median at the branches’ driplines


what if democracy is not a machine but a delicate complex organism

            requiring water and nurture to keep it photosynthesizing      carbon-fixing

the summer the shape of the moon

            pressed itself               over and over              onto the earth




Jennifer BullisJennifer Bullis is author of Impossible Lessons (MoonPath, 2013). Recent poems are appearing in Water~Stone Review, Cherry Tree, Cave Wall, and Under a Warm Green Linden. She is librettist for a cantata in the voices of the Sirens commissioned by Seattle Baroque Orchestra, and her manuscript of resistance poems, “The Tongue of Narcissus,” is a finalist for the Brittingham & Pollak Prizes.

Read Jennifer Bullis’s prose Letter to America appearing February 4, 2017.

Header photo by Phongsak Meedaenphai, courtesy Shutterstock.
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