Summons: A Poem

Award-winning poet and Bay Area resident D.A. Powell teaches at the University of San Francisco. "Summons" is one of three Powell poems to appear in Alta's Summer 2020 issue.

da powell
D.A. Powell

A goodness that isn’t in us
until it’s in us

little cakes, jam filling
something to tide us over

except it comes from inside
and has no decoration.

What if I reached down deep
he said, and there was nothing.

That’s when I got scared
for all of us. What if what if.

Being the hour of disquiet.

On the bridge a woman
heaped over with a cup

extended beyond her
as far as she can reach

and still grasp its paper sides.
What if every mother bore a cup

and asked us to hold that cup
while she went for milk.

Did you step past already?
You are not remarkable. You did

the expected thing. You watched
the gulls diving for bread

upon the water down below.

Are you saving for a house
and if you own it will you own it

as a sanctuary from all the worst
suffering. Will it keep you

like a cookie until mealtime.
“This should keep you.” Tuppence.

Goodness, are you there. Have
you got it in you, goodness that

only goodness knows. How do
the sad go shopping—sadly. Some of

this, some of that. Toothpaste.

Something in case. In case of
company. In case of fire.

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