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Hang your flowers up to dry

August 20, 2009

Although I suspect my poetry is driving some of you away, I am, for the moment, committed to doing it. It is a manageable bit of creative writing each week that doesn’t interfere with The Big Project. If you don’t like poetry, or don’t like my poetry — and I wouldn’t blame you at all — please come back later for regularly scheduled posting. If not, read ahead at your own peril.

This week’s poetry stretch at Miss Rumphius is to write a verse or three for a poem called “13 Ways of Looking at Summer,” inspired by Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” In the end, I ended up with the full 13. I’ve never been especially good at playing well with others.

13 ways of looking at summer

One last invisible bell
and it begins
with shrieks of joy
and a popsicle bought from a cart
with a damp dollar, folded in fourths.

The slow yawn of days,
and we are stretched like cats
in a patch of sun,
books falling from our fingers.

There are new patterns:
sunlight on the walls in the afternoon,
ways of moving through the kitchen,
the angles of fans.

At night the stars
tickle our heads,
nestled in the grass
where we wait and doze.

I stand, toes curled on the
lip of the diving board
anticipating the icy water
above and below me.

With a fat thwack,
the bat sends the
scarred leather ball
over the outfield fence.

At the fair,
a loose balloon
slips its string and
heads for the sky.

We have been to the mountaintop
to see what was there
and come back again with
the sweetness of
remembering it.

Oh, the heat! The heat!
We hold our breath for the crash that ends it
in a flash, sending the dog
whimpering under my feet,
while rain hammers the windowpanes.

The first bite of a peach
tart and sweet,
sends a river of juice from my chin,
a sticky kiss.

The lake smells like earth and lilies,
a tangle of weeds
and just enough sand to bury our toes in warm.

With a bang of the screen porch door,
we leap from our shoes to the damp lawn
to seize fireflies before it is too late.
They speak in code to our hands.

A huddle of excitement at the school door,
as we read lists posted at the last minute.
A hurried celebration under a cloudy sky,
we hold our breaths and dive in.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2009 10:04 am

    I take it the lyrics to the song on my latest post are out, then. Unless you live in a dank, dark cave or in Buffalo Bill’s house. Pass the lotion, please…

    (Sorry, feeling weird today…)

  2. August 20, 2009 12:32 pm

    I like it! Except I don’t identify with the excited about school part. I feel resentment that this afternoon is the last of summer vacation.

  3. freshhell permalink
    August 20, 2009 1:19 pm

    I like it. I’m not much of a poetry person but I applaud your ability to come up with 13 stanzas. We have two full weeks of summer vacation left. Of course, not the grownups. My husband started back teaching today and I go back to normal hours on Monday. But the kids….for them it’s the endless summer.

  4. August 22, 2009 8:53 am

    I’m a big poetry fan and I really enjoyed this. Your images of summer were very vivid. Nice work!

  5. August 22, 2009 3:37 pm

    This is absolutely gorgeous. I love so many of the lines — the damp dollar folded in fourths –smelling a lake!– fireflies speak code to our hands.

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