On the picnic blanket under the oak tree
my father turned to me and said:
“We hope you always come back here,”
where the shade eases the Southern sun
on our pale skin, where we sit in favor,
and I felt this birthday’s finite weight:
the ratio of lie to light,
and the brevity of this celebration
on the white blanket in tall grass;
his voice could not cradle me for long,
could not forever shade me in its bloom.
Soon, he would say goodbye for good,
and I’d drive across the state line
to my girlfriend: and the light strikes us
with no more backyard oak to shelter
from the burns on my face, my hands.
Amy Lauren Jones (she/her) is a 22-year-old graduate music major at Mississippi College. She has been published in the university’s annual literary magazine for three years, and her poetry will appear in upcoming issues of GERM Magazine, Wherewithal, and Lavender Review. She hopes to pursue a doctorate in music while continuing to write about social justice issues in the Deep South.