Archives of Summer

Four Seasons (Summer detail); Marc Chagall (CC BY 2.0 Chris Rycroft)

The extremes are easy. Only
the middle is a puzzle. Midsummer—
everything is possible.

—Louise Glück, “Heaven and Earth”


By Labor Day, I aimlessly occupy
a cobalt dumpster. My moss-covered
and rain-rotted beams rejoice,

relieved of their dumb burden
to keep standing years after
you had any use for my simple
shelter. With a dewy shudder,

I breathed your ancient stoves
and forgotten lawn furniture out my
decrepit door; my dusty windows
shattered and their absence
reveals children playing, new light,
and quiet green shadow in afternoons
punctuated by a rumbling vestige
of departed industry whose
ambivalent daily passage
shook me too.

Now what you can see only as
a pile of rubble, I anticipate
becoming geologic, an invisible
priest no longer falling
but dancing oh so slowly
with new partners who never knew
whence I was torn.


That. Walk me in lazy circles
all day while I delight in robin
and bluebird song and point
at the full trees, down the lane,
up the back steps—everywhere new.

That that: the sky’s shocking blue
unlocks something undeveloped during
winter’s drab months, months spent
indoors and becoming, a lifetime.
Under its brilliant, novel expanse,

one captivating dog after another passes
as the shadows lengthen, and somewhere
up there, that: the sun! Let me down:
now a few rocks, a piece of disambiguated
garbage, so many flower pots, this white
bucket and the satisfying click of its lid,
a new cart, an unblemished red ball, flowers
gleefully beheaded, comfy chairs, seeds
helicoptering the air, that that that!


Exiled from Sonora’s dry iron heat
in the humid Alleghenies, the temperate
Catskills, summer is my proper season.

The blooms and days accomplished,
families departed, students lazing
elsewhere, and the quiet persistence
of desks and libraries permit my
irreducibly intermediary preoccupations
a familiar warm latitude—labor sometimes
nostalgic, more often speculative. In these
interstices, I also reacquaint myself with
the unexploded ordnance of the crises beyond
my patient indexed screens’ mystifying
historical allure, reading into the night
with desultory privilege and embarrassment
the spring’s disappointments and atrocities.

But the evening hesitates its realization,
holding still the morning’s break as birdsong
ebbs and neighbors amble in the lingering glow.
Breathe, for the season will soon be unbearable.