August 31, 2006

August Day

You work with what you are given —
today I am blessed, today I am given luck.

It takes the shape of a dozen ripening fruit trees,
a curtain of pole beans, a thicket of berries.
It takes the shape of a dozen empty hours.

In them is neither love nor love's muster of losses,
in them there is no chance for harm or for good.
Does even my humanness matter?
A bear would be equally happy, this August day,
fat on the simple sweetness plucked between thorns.

There are some who may think, "How pitiful, how lonely."
Other must murmur, "How lazy."
I agree with them all: pitiful, lonely, lazy.
Lost to the earth and to heaven,
thoroughly drunk on its whiskeys, I wander my kingdom.

~ Jane Hirshfield, in Given Sugar, Given Salt

I didn't carry a poem in my pocket this week. Although it's a great idea. Instead, I banged back and forth between the slow slipping away of summer, a steady trickle of water through the unseen cracks in my cupped hands, and the thrill of school starting: new chalk, new clothes, new class lists, recitations of the summer's pleasures.

My son can't understand why the pool down the street has to close. And excitedly spends the morning sounding out words in case "big boy school" has some reading in it.

The end of August.

(See what the rest of the Poetry Thursday folks are up to here.)


Kamsin said...

This poem is very evocative of the lazy late summer sunshine, the heaviness of the air and of the ripe fruit waiting to be picked. Those 12 lazy hours perhaps the last before school, or work dictate lifes pace once again. Great choice.

gkgirl said...

perfect poem
for this time of year...

kerrdelune said...

Oh these late summer days, slow and honeyed and golden, drifting in their own sweet fashion toward fall and things such as school and falling leaves - I loved the Jane Hirshfield poem which is one of my favourites

Maureen/RavenGrrl said...

Great poem for August -- or September. I love the line, Does even my humanness matter? ...

ah, I want that kind of day and today, inspired by you and Jane Hirshfield, I will go out and make it happen -- or find it in the yellow hills, the smoke-filled-almost-autumn air and the sunflower heads, ripe and hanging so heavy they look to break their stems.

What you wrote about the slow slipping away of summer, all the words in that paragraph are prefectly evocative of the end-of-summer, the speeding up of time just before school, fall, cooler days. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.