She was right about this place, the unforgiving winter months sullen, sunless, bitter, but then spring a dream God has and lets us slumber in until October. What’s lonelier is our non-Dutchness and, Boom Bap, she’d say, it does make a difference: any porch light inviting scholars, dap, moths, those of us outside their huge, jolly, white families. June, after her death, I walk my dogs, my strollered son, through the park between our house and hers, where sometimes I see the preemie and spouse who live without her dark shoulders in a sundress, Phyllis Wheatley and classic rap popping in her mouth. Today, instead, I see an arm at the window waving high and wide at me, and I know so few here, none but her family in the lofts across the way, that for a frozen second I think, It’s Jenn, my heart a squirrel between these trees, leaping, stuttering with joy, & though it cannot possibly be—wrong floor, wrong skin—just like that, my hand is ready, raised to wave. The arm lifts again its small rag, back & forth, wiping the window clean.
Susanna Childress has published two books of poetry and has a book of lyric essays and fragments titled Extremely Yours forthcoming from Awst Press. She teaches at Hope College and lives near the western shore of Lake Michigan with her partner Joshua Banner, two dogs, and three children.