music in the park san jose

Ah, summer. 

The smell of chlorine mixed with sunscreen 

surrounds the pool at the neighborhood Y. 

Sleeveless. Popsicle tongued children who never age. 

The familiar sounds of flip flops flip flopping, 

dangling off the Ocean Beach Pier 

moving with the circadian like rhythm of each wave. 

I remember that morning: 

witnessing the world, omniscient in my denim shorts. 

Sand covered feet, watching dogs of all breeds 

chase the day, chase the ball, happily enveloped in the morning tide. 

A young girl in a printed summer dress endearingly speaking 

to her black Labrador as she sets him leash free. 

A couple holding their toddler’s arms, swinging her along the shore. 

The pure sweetness of her laughter filling my soul. 

Thinking, “Love wins again.” 

Summer-where the midday heat blatantly hovers 

over anything with ice, ice cubed in glasses or crushed 

under pretty blue and red syrup glistening with promise 

“Snow cones here. Get your snow cones here.” 

Summer-when the ball is pitched, the resounding crack 

of the bat echoes gloriously into the bleachers 

as the crowd cheers and beer spills with enthusiasm. 

Mustard stains shirts in testimony to the season. 

Late that afternoon, 32 miles south of San Jose, 

at small city food festival, shots scar the air. Pop-pop. 

39 rounds of terror fired by a single gunman.

Why wasn’t it fireworks instead of gunfire, and why 

were lives randomly, senselessly taken? 

Canopies lay wounded among others in disbelief. 

Thousands flee. The TinMan stopped playing. 

On this day July fell 

down on her knees and wept inconsolably. 

Taken at 13. Taken at 25. 

A six year old boy whose smile pierced our hearts so deeply-

All taken. His innocence will never comprehend 

the hate that took place in an unsuspecting field. 

A good place where history and home intersect. And yet, a place 

where family and tradition no longer feel safe in numbers. 

I will always remember that day in Gilroy, California 

with unspeakable sadness of knowing 

We are all vulnerable. 

At Christmas Hill Park, people gather in vigil 

watching the summer sun eclipse with grief. 

Hope Engel

San Diego

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