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Summer Evenings

When I was growing up we lived in a very small house. I can't remember if I thought is was small, but it was -- especially as the family grew and the house didn't. You could pretty much hear everyone, all the time. It was not a good house for holding secrets. For some part of every summers, we went to a rough hewn little cottage that once belonged to my grandparents. It was even smaller, really just one room with a few thin walls to divide the space. In both places I remember, for the better part of June, July, and August, being made to go to bed before it was fully dark. My parents, of course, would stay up for another hour at least, so their conversations served as a kind of lullaby. Now on summer evenings, as the light lingers long past my old bedtime, I often feel a sense of wonder at the way those dusk hours pass with an elegant gait, slowly loping toward starry darkness. I am the adult, allowed to stay up as late as I please, so there are no half heard conversations in the next room to sing me to sleep; but, that childhood feeling remains, as does the profound sweetness of summer evenings when you are so young you think everything will last forever.

Summer Evenings


in the curved tail

of the day,

the radio on low

in the next room,

there is a slow sliding --

It’s summer and it’s still light

O, the comforts of childhood:

parents talking quietly

through the twilight,

the cabin cot with

one cool sheet, and suddenly,

breakfast sounds in the kitchen.

When you are older,

it will be different.

you will wait for sleep

under the heavy limbs

of evening, and listen through

the arched silk of the branches,

with a kind of hunger.

Do you hear it now?

the soft voice of your mother

speaking to your father;

Do you hear it now?

The oldest tree,

heavy with new leaves,

whispering “hush, hush.”

till at last you sleep.

#summer #poetry #childhood

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