Summer, Here at Last: And a Tragedy

This summer’s passed us by they sulked.
We’ve been cursed by a season of miserable Mondays,
because someone’s accidentally
locked the sun in a cupboard,
and somebody’s forgotten to put the twelve pack of beer in the fridge.

They speak as though the weather is like central heating,
and there’s someone you can shake a finger at
when it all goes pear shaped,
a dodgy plumber, a senile electrician.

And I hear they now sell summer pre-packaged
in certain upscale supermarkets.

But boy did the sun put on a big comeback show for us today.
Still soaked in the pungent aroma of her
extended stay in tropical Rarotonga,
she wrapped us all in a big scorching, sticky sun-hug,
and caught the popsicle venders totally unprepared.

The mercury licked the stratosphere,
by noon it reached a wobbly thirty,
and the streets had that languid yellow equatorial quality
that feels like the onset of a hangover, sunstroke,
when even the fat, black flies don’t move
for the half-finished melted cones.

At noon the trees tilted to swipe their brows,
and a crowd gathered round a fallen man,
mouth open gasping heat,
a woman frantically fanning the life back into his cracked face,
and wail of sirens like the opening of hell.
Too late the sun winked behind a cloud.

You can’t beat Wellington on a good day,
goes the unofficial slogan.
Summer brings oiled up crowds off the cruise ships,
bums on the beaches, booty in the souvenir shop coffers.

And the sun’s supposed to dutifully play its part,
court jester to the pickled pedestrians.
But today she showed us who’s boss,
under her bright and fierce tongue we all sweat like popsicles,
and when she wants, she can suck a life down to the flimsy stick.

Kids pulled their tricks down at the skate park
high into the woozy air,
a crowd watched a few brave souls doing bombs into the greasy harbour,
judging the height of their spray with raucous cheers,
life and joy and death crackled on the skillet of the summer.

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Fierce

Fierce white feet,
paddling harder and harder
going nowhere
on the bristling waves,
somersault of light,
a foam of dolphins
drenched their glistening fears.

Player piano and the
drowned musician,
mazurkas of the forbidden heart,
it killed us with a bowl of fruit,
a single pineapple that
reached the shore.

Round and round in circles,
fierce little feet,
their widening wake,
carrying the laughter of
their skin.
I thought of spiders and seabirds,
things that never dreamed of death,
or burst pipes,
or a broken coast.

And the children trailed their toes
and combed the sea’s green hair.
She shuddered at their touch,
she welcomed their kisses,
and the paper boats that ignited
beneath a flaming feather in the sky.

Bouquet

There was love in the room,
full, opening to the bending rafters.
She was a bouquet that
spilled across the bed,
while a basket of fruit
exploded in my face.
There was laughter in the room,
it echoed like a cathedral
of white love spasms,
when the sky knelt in prayer,
and the world obeyed the moss.
Laughter in the blood,
swinging from body to body,
two bodies scooped into
the sun’s morning paws.
There was love in the room.
There were bouquets
of exploded hearts.

Apple Picking

By mid-morning my hand ached
from the repetitive rhythm
of the cutting and pulling,
and the sun beat its way into my head,
and expanded like a seed of heat.
The work still hadn’t broken me in,
and I was greener than the baby shoots.

But everywhere, the others,
more seasoned than I,
worked to the rhythm of the grass
and the pollen,
and a music of wind sometimes swelled
and cooled their broad necks.
Everyone was tawny there,

and even the young women of the orchard,
loved more by the sun than the men,
looked like the reddened, beautiful girls
I have seen in pictures of the
people of the wild steppes.

At lunch time, I talked with the
old guy who works the tractor.
His voice was full of salt and dust,
and he spoke of last season’s work,
and of tea trees and pears
and his 44 years under
this corner of the sun.

If you are here long enough,
the orchard will shape your speech,
so that it rises just loud enough
above the breeze,
and there’s not much to say
beyond the hedges and the slow road,
and the hills that are already
a foreign land.

In the morning,
as I picked among the too close branches,
I thought of things beyond me,
debts, women, cities, ships and
also death.
But come afternoon, in the heat
that quells all words,
I thought of nothing,
and was simply a rustling through the trees.

VIII

In the lungs of the girl,
the summer is a grove of shadow,
a song that is a bird,
a distance of guitars,
and the cicada’s trembling silence.
In the lungs of the girl,
the summer is a barb of joy,
a collapse of leaves in the burning roots,
love in the dark feet of children,
and translucent carp
streaming from the sun’s despair.
In the lung of the summer,
the girl is a voice of embers
dancing over my closed eyes.

Do I Doubt The What That I Am?

Do I doubt the what that I am?
I, a strange seam in the secret streets.
I who barely am.

But feel how the night
wants me to be a thing,
how it brushes past me,
a cape of quickening ache,

silent, possessed with infinite touch,
that rouses me to seeing,
how it distinguishes me
from the tree and the fish.

It peels me from myself,
leaf by aching leaf,
scatters my pages
to the lost hours of the wind.

But I am, I am
dying, burning, being.
Night wants me to be a thing,
surrounded by the scent

the others secrete.
Their sexual sadness,
their lamented joy,

and the first and last breath and dream,
endlessly lost
and then found again,
like a discovered moon.
Do I doubt the what that I am?