Elizabeth Buehl

Perennial Sunshine

But the or sounds like	
The ar in—far	
From mountains and fall leaves,
But close to fields of tangy clementines.

Cities built on limestone.
Arrows on the highway exit signs
Point every way but north.
An orange on my license plate
But the or sounds like	
The ar in—apart
Of a state
Where the borders
Are shaped like waves
That make landfall,
Coming and going
Like emotions in the heat.

Mosquitos in the winters
Sting like splinters
From docks that wade
As the tides change,
But the water
Is always on the rise.

Turtle in paradise,
I sit under the southern sky
Stuck in a shell.
My mind sleeps in the eye of a hurricane
While thunder cracks around me.

I come from the sawgrass,
Stolen land of the Seminoles
Under the jurisdiction of DeSantis.
One can hear the whip
Of boat flags that fly
Patriotically American
But with gray and blue stripes.

Politicians incinerate fields of sugarcane.
Their smoke sounds like a whisper
Purring Don’t Say Gay,

But the true pawns in the games they play
Are the people—
Ovaries wards of the state,
ICE in combat boots and uniform.

Minoritized faces get deported,
Their eyes watch god
As they look up at the ball of fire
That defines the sunshine state,
But when they say her name,
the or will sound
Like the ar in—hard
Like the bullet holes that pierce
The walls of suburban high school classrooms.

Elizabeth Buehl is a student at Tufts University double majoring in Psychology and English on a pre-law track. Buehl is a coxswain on the Varsity Women’s Rowing Team and an executive on The Tufts Daily, a student-run newspaper. Buehl is planning to attend law school upon graduation from Tufts and is very passionate about creative writing.

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