Elegy for My Son, Nine Years Later

by Wanda S. Praisner

I keep my eyes from the date
on the board: September 15th
look instead to the students,
my lesson plans. After the class sings
the national anthem, I remind them
it’s the anniversary
of Francis Scott Key penning his poem.

I join in What’s New—tell
of white cabbage butterflies I’d seen
among fuchsia gomphrena blooms;
a silver-spotted skipper
sampling sweetness with its feet,

uncoiling, thrusting proboscis in
to draw the liquid out;
and yellow jackets, stirred by the drought,
circling in search of moisture,
like the flies at Aswan Airport

I once swatted, some six hundred
with a folded paper bag.
I say I’ll bring in the straw switch
I used in the desert
to keep them from my perspired face.

After class, at the cemetery,
I place roses in a vase, add water.
Yellow jackets near and I remember
I’d forgotten to mention
how the silver-spotted skipper flew,
its right wing in tatters,
more than half of it gone.


Author Bio:

Wanda S. Praisner, a recipient of fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts,the Dodge Foundation, the Fine Arts Work Center, and VCCA, has work in Atlanta Review, Lullwater Review, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. Latest books are: Where the Dead Are (CKP, 2013) and Sometimes When Something Is Singing (Antrim House, 2014).She is a poet in residence for the NJ State Council on the Arts.


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