Lost In The Sun
By E. Ethelbert Miller
Poet, Writer, Teacher, and Literary Activist
This summer, while it’s been an unusual season of baseball (or any other sport, for that matter), our friend E. Ethelbert Miller has been working on a new collection of baseball poems in follow up to his 2018 award-winning book If God Invented Baseball (City Point Press).
According to Ethelbert, his new baseball collection and "Lost In The Sun," the poem you’ll read below, "capture some of the early joys of fatherhood, including the tossing of a child into the air – that moment when the child feels a certain freedom and vulnerability. There are often giggles and laughter. Soon a child outgrows a father’s hands." Even in the midst of such idyllic memories, for black dads and sons, a fear encroaches. "A black father knows the blueness of the sky is also the blueness of the police," Ethelbert says. "I think of too many black fathers standing over their sons now in coffins. Their dreams gone." “In baseball, there is that helpless moment where you run to catch a ball and suddenly you can’t see it – eight other guys can’t help you,” he continues, explaining the uneasy double entendre of the poem’s title. “The ball is lost in the sun. You try your best to protect your head from the ball. You duck and cover. There is nothing you can do when your son hits the ground. Your eyes hidden by sunglasses and there is enough crying for a rain delay." "Lost In The Sun," like "Is This The History of Air?" a previous poem by Ethelbert we’ve shared recently at the end of our monthly newsletter, cries out in anguish and mourns the ongoing and senseless killing of black fathers, sons, and daughters by police officers and other assailants during this and too many other seasons past.
As best as any words can possibly describe, Ethelbert's "Lost In The Sun" conveys some of the unimaginable heartbreak, hopelessness, and injustice that must be felt by black parents when their children are taken from them under such tragic circumstances.
The following is shared by the Daddying blog with Ethelbert's permission. It was published previously in The Weird Times newsletter, September 6, 2020:
LOST IN THE SUN
joyful black fathers throwing their little ones into the air years later a troubling blue sky blankets their world black fathers at funerals no longer able to catch their sons black fathers no longer standing in a field of dreams their black boys gone sunglasses unable to hide their grief
– E. Ethelbert Miller
The Washington Post once called E. Ethelbert Miller, "arguably the most influential person in Washington's vast and vibrant African American arts community. And perhaps its most unappreciated." Miller is a poet, writer, teacher, and literary activist. He is the author of two memoirs, including Fathering Words: The Making of An African American Writer, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year with a reprinting, and several books of poetry, including The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, which celebrates more than 40 years of his work. For 17 years, Miller served as the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. His poetry has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Miller is a two-time Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel. He holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Emory and Henry College and has taught at several universities. Miller hosts the weekly WPFW morning radio show On the Margin with E. Ethelbert Miller and is a producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV. Miller was inducted into the 2015 Washington, DC, Hall of Fame, awarded the 2016 AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature, and presented the 2016 DC Mayor’s Arts Award for "Distinguished Honor." In 2018, he was inducted into Gamma Xi Phi and appointed as an ambassador for the Authors Guild. Miller’s most recent book, If God Invented Baseball, earned the 2019 Literary Award for poetry by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.