Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel
with the boys, getting louder and louder
as the empty cans drop out of our paws
like booster rockets falling back to Earth
Sweet smell of phlox drifting across the lawn —
an early warning of the end of summer.
August is fading fast, and by September
the little purple flowers will all be gone.
Season, project, and vacation done.
One more year in everybody’ s life.
Add a notch to the old hunting knife
Time keeps testing with a horny thumb.
Over the summer months hung an unspoken
aura of urgency. In late July
galactic pulsings filled the midnight sky
like silent screaming, so that, strangely woken,
Yes. I remember Adlestrop —
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop — only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
O zummer clote! when the brook’ s a-glidèn
So slow an’ smooth down his zedgy bed,
Upon thy broad leaves so seäfe a-ridèn
The water’ s top wi’ thy yollow head,
By alder sheädes, O,
An’ bulrush beds, O,
Thou then dost float, goolden zummer clote!
Where the western zun, unclouded,
Up above the grey hill-tops,
Did sheen drough ashes, lofty sh’ ouded,
On the turf beside the copse,
In zummer weather,
Gambol’ d wi’ the zun a-zettèn.
By such an all-embalming summer day
As sweetens now among the mountain pines
Down to the cornland yonder and the vines,
To where the sky and sea are mixed in gray,
How do all things together take their way
Harmonious to the harvest, bringing wines
And bread and light and whatsoe’ er combines
In the large wreath to make it round and gay.
To me my troubled life doth now appear
Like scarce distinguishable summits hung
Around the blue horizon: places where
Not even a traveller purposeth to steer, —
and then Tony showed us the lake
where he had thrown some of his sadness last summer
and it had dissolved like powder
so he thought maybe the lake could take
some of the radiant, aluminum kind
he had been making lately.
And it did.
It was a perfect lake,
none of the paint had chipped off,
no bolts showing, the arms that Dante
I like to lie with you wordless
on black cloud rooft beach
in late june 5 o’ clock tempest
on clump weed bed with sand
fitting your contours like tailor made
and I like to wash my summer brown face
in north cold hudson rapids
with octagon soap
knees niched in steamy rocks
where last night’ s frog stared
at our buddhist sleep
but most of all I like to see
the morning happen...
Then I was sealed, and like the wintering tree
I stood me locked upon a summer core;
Living, had died a death, and asked no more.
And I lived then, but as enduringly,
And my heart beat, but only as to be.
Ill weathers well, hail, gust and cold I bore,
I held my life as hid, at root, in store:
Thus I lived then, till this air breathed on me.
Till this kind air breathed kindness everywhere,