Read Reaching for Sun Online

Authors: Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Reaching for Sun

reaching for sun

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

CONTENTS

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

winter

not even me

Tomatoes

break

invisible

the bus

home

Uniform

double major

drop out

fingertip pieces of Dreams

aunt laura

gifts

holiday buffet

midnight service

holiday

presents

the back acre

clothes

the table

january

spring

kingdom of imaginary worlds

poppies

despite

backyard archaeology

dress of leaves

searching

leapfrog

an acre of imagination

me, the dandelion

small envelopes

stuck to my tongue

autograph

whirligigs

bus stop

jewels

flicker

snake

snoring

the question

three feet square

kiss of life

wildflower mix

like me

summer

never

note

cold strands of spaghetti

graduation

daydreamer

the red plate

ripples of sunlight

maybe just a little

cricket lullabies

suit yourself

cutting

omission

liar

messages

i can’t name

daring the rain

swallow a frog

god-sized broom

discovery

a good crop

invitation

good-bye

like this

fresh-turned soil

the old lies

bald, bent old man

two sets of doors

today’s special: guilt

blurt

granny’s purse

refusal

only the birds

i miss

tending

empty

choked by kudzu

awake

full of lies

changes

visiting hours

small gifts

a body can’t afford

paroled

like sun

everything looks greener

soap and syrup

fall

back to the bus

like cactus

ping

double bubblegum blooms

fourteen candles

snort

first

dreams

eiffel tower

hammock

better than my own

reaching

Acknowledgments

Imprint

For my mother,
Pauline Courtney Schwitalski,
and in memory of my grandmothers,
Jane Wyatt Stines,
Ollie DePew Vaughn, and
Lenora “Jackie” Whittington Courtney

winter

Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface

In thee thy summer.

—William Shakespeare (SONNET VI)

not even me

The late bell rings,

but

I’m hiding

in the last stall

of the girls’ bathroom

until I hear

voices

disappear behind closing

classroom doors.

Only then

do I slip out

into the deserted hallway

and rush to room 204,

a door

no one

wants to be seen opening.

Not even

me.

tomatoes

With my odd walk

and slow speech

everyone knows

I’ve got special ed,

but if I wait

until the hall clears,

taunts like tomatoes

don’t splatter

the back of my head.

break

It’s the last day

before winter break,

when the hallway is littered with

Christmas ribbons and wrappings,

when presents are passed

between romances and friends.

As I walk through the door

Mrs. Sternberg hands me

a lunch bag

decorated with stickers and stamps

that’s full of candy,

but it won’t change

the lonely taste

of seventh grade.

invisible

If being assigned to room 204

wasn’t bad enough,

now the new occupational therapist

(Mrs. Swaim)

appears to escort me

to her torture chamber.

She nags me

(just like Mom)

about wearing my splint.

She reminds me

(just like Mom)

to do the painful stretches

and exercises.

But my thumb will always be pasted to my palm,

and my left wrist and shoulder

connected

by an invisible rubber band

called cerebral palsy.

the bus

I sit third row on the bus,

try to scrunch myself

tight

against the frosted window,

feet on fire

from the heater beneath.

Hiding—again—

from this week’s troublemakers

assigned

to the first row:

Natalie Jackson, for cussing;

Pete Yancey, for spitwads;

Caleb Harrison, for flipping off

a delivery guy.

And from their friends who sit

in the back of the bus—

caged animals waiting to be unleashed

in the Falling Waters neighborhood.

I’m last to get released

from this rolling tortured tin can,

as they head off in pairs and packs—

joking,

laughing,

gossiping,

planning,

new scenes

for their perfect lives.

home

In the kitchen

Gran’s stationed at her double oven,

four pots

bubbling and steaming,

sweat beading on her upper lip.

Her friend Edna (the complainer)

stands near the sink

mixing a giant bowl of batter.

“Hi, Ms. Edna.”

“Hello, honey.”

“How was school, Josie-bug?” Gran asks,

wiping her face with her oven-mitted hand.

“Okay,” I lie—

in front of her friend.

Edna hands off a wooden spoon

for me to stir

the caramel on the double boiler—

the main ingredient for Gran’s famous

popcorn balls.

Already coconut bars,

divinity (little white flowers

that melt on your tongue),

and vanilla fudge march across countertops

on wax paper.

We’ll deliver them all to Lazy Acres,

the nursing home

where Gran visits her “old” friends.

The one place

other than here

only smiles greet me.

uniform

Each day

Gran wears

khaki elastic pants,

a crisp white collared shirt

that never gets spotted

no matter how much

she cooks

or works in the garden.

Her brown vinyl purse

is always within reach,

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