The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Elizabeth Crowell

The Longest Day

"Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it?
I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it."


My daughter is learning to read,
each word a country she must enter.
Soon, she will travel soundless, away. 
Already, she opens then closes a book
like she is slamming the door of a house
she will never go in; this one will not be her story,
not the monkey who is too curious,
not the boy whose treehouse lets her time travel.
not the duck who types on a typewriter.
Outside the library window, the sun is noon-clear,
trees as green and heavy, jewel-toned
as they will ever be.
It seems like it never gets later.
My daughter grabs my hand
in the barely-dark dusk,
proclaiming she doesn’t know why,
but she is afraid that the man, over there,
has a gun and will shoot her dead.
There is a story, too, in her head.
Her body nudged to mine,
and the cool of the book under her elbow
makes me feel that I might have missed
something that could have saved my life. 




ELIZABETH CROWELL's most recent work was published in The Sewanee Review and Spry and is forthcoming in War and the Literary Arts



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