That Autumn was Bullet Proof

Image credit: Jr Korpa

Jr Korpa

I am crying now. 
Who isn’t?
I took down the sukkah walls. The blue tarps. 
Then I cut the gourds from their strings. 
The autumn leaves blew around my feet and I said hello leaves.
They said goodbye.

The sukkah heals the world 
and when you take it down 
you keep one in your body so when your body meets the world 
someone feels better.
You keep one in your pocket 
so when you give it to the person at the bus stop who is weeping
they will continue to weep.

I am in the car crying. 
Taylor Swift is on the stereo. 
My Tears Ricochet. They do. 
They bounce all over the highway like bullets into road signs. 
I don’t like bullets. 
Once I believed the sukkah walls were bullet proof. 
That autumn was bullet proof 
but now nothing is bullet proof. 
That is why I am crying in the classroom this morning. 

The books fall off the shelves 
and no one wants to read anymore. 
Especially not the kids. 
Some of them have family in the war zone. 
Do you know what a sukkah is? 
You eat in it and shake the lulav to celebrate the sweetness of the harvest. 
It’s the harvest that heals the world. 
The death of crops so you can eat in winter. 
Every time I take down the sukkah walls it says hello.

Every time I hear Taylor Swift I think of Natalie and I weep. 
She’s my daughter who knows all the lyrics to the sukkah.
She sings, We gather stones, never knowing what they’ll mean/
Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring
Some days Taylor Swift is the sukkah of the world.
Some days it is just you and me.

I am crying now in the middle of the sky.
I am the sukkah of the world and so are you.
I don’t know how I got here. 
The clouds blow around my feet.
Hello clouds, I say. 
They say, Don’t look down if you are scared.
I am scared but I have no choice. 
I look down.

I am crying again, here in the parking lot.
It’s a Dunkin Donuts parking lot of the world. 
There is coffee for everyone. 
There are glazed donuts for everyone.
Everyone is here, crying, in the war zone,
in the comfort zone, 
in the zone of harmony and dissonance
that is the sukkah of the world 
and the walls are trying hard 
to keep all the bullets out.  

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Matthew Lippman, the recipient of the 2018 Levis Prize for his book Mesmerizingly Sadly Beautiful (2020), published by Four Way Books, is the author of six poetry collections. His next collection, We Are All Sleeping With Our Sneakers On, will be published by Four Way Books in 2024. 

Photo credit: Natalie Lippman


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