for Linda on her 77th birthday
Hot summer nights after parking on the levee
to watch and listen to the slow glide of barges
up and down the Ohio River,
Dad drove up Main Street,
sometimes stopping to get fresh donuts
or vanilla bean ice cream cones at Lik’s,
but almost always to Garvin Park.
Sis and I tussled to stand on the drive-shaft hump
in the back seat to be the first to catch the glow.
One hazy night she tried to convince me
she saw it from as far away as the Woodlawn Theater.
But always, when we crossed the train tracks
at Maxwell Avenue, it glistened
at the end of the long tunnel of giant elms
that lured us in.
Dad parked in the Braves’ stadium lot,
stayed in the car with Mom,
as we leapt from the back seat
and raced to the fountain
that flowered, hissed, and danced above us.
As we edged up step by cautious step,
first a slight chill,
then a fine mist tickled our faces.
Closer and closer, it pricked our hair
and the backs of our hands,
the water repeating pink, yellow, green, blue, white . . .
over and over, your face shining
as we licked our lips, wiped our eyes,
and laughed like there was no tomorrow.
F. Richard Thomas was born and raised in Evansville, attended Purdue University and Indiana University for undergraduate and graduate degrees, and in 1980 edited one of the first anthologies of Indiana place poems, The Landlocked Heart, jointly with Indiana Writes. He has several full-length books of poetry, and one novella, in addition to chapbooks.