A poem for Louis Armstrong

Lana Hechtman Ayers
What a Wonderful World  
             for Louis Armstrong
 When Satchmo set down the trumpet
 and let his gravelly voice become the music,
 the earth nearly stopped spinning 
 in awe of such angelic praise.
 It was a sweltering summer Sunday afternoon
 in my house, Daddy lying on the couch 
 with the fat weekend paper, sat up 
 and set it aside when the song
 filtered into the living room from the radio,
 filling it with fluttering Monarch butterflies,
 lilac blossoms heavy with scent, 
 red hibiscus blooms dripping dew
 onto the rust shag rug, suddenly transformed
 to a carpet of soft green grass my toes 
 couldn’t resist & a cool breeze rose up from
 palms trees that shimmied in the corners.
 My mother, who possessed no silly bone,
 showed up in a hula skirt & matched 
 the swaying rhythms with her ample hips.
 And soon, my brother joined in,
 shaking a box of salt, & robins bobbed 
 heads from their perch on the coffee table, 
 & daddy whistled along, while our dog 
 rolled cartwheels & ice cream sundaes 
 floated down from the sky that once was
 a ceiling, now only cloudless blue.
 And when the song ended as songs do,
 the room became a room again.
 The breeze vanished, along with the trees
 & birds & grass. The staleness of humid
 air asserted itself again and my mother
 complained about the too-bright sun
 & my brother blamed me for something
 I hadn’t done & my father didn’t look up
 from the newspaper, ignoring the fuss.
 Me, I closed my eyes & covered my ears.
 I could still hear Satchmo’s voice rising 
 from the middle of my chest, a crooning 
 from inside my heart & his raspy, happy
 praise song has lived there ever since.  

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