On the first full day of summer the sun is up the sky as far as it will get and now it will head south to warm the Antipodes, where today it rains and gales blow up from the Antarctic. Here it is summer already, the lawn mowed, garden weeded and nostalgia for summers past makes her way into this place. The years of WWII bunkers on South Beach and the tar coating our feet from the boats out there and green-eyed Billy, now gone to fat and trouble, trying to pull me through his bedroom window. Now, Lily Briscoe paints the lighthouse again, and my cousins across the yard. And the others, all of them. Grown middle-aged... or dead or sick and their children, for Christ’s sake, all grown up. We were something. The great bonfire on the beach and sex in the dunes with someone I would never see or taste again, and hanging on each other before the fire. The other years: crossing the Tyrrhenian Sea in a summer storm, fearing the boat will sink because they have, they do. Below decks everyone pukes and prays to Dio, Deo, Allah, so I go above and lash my sleeping bag to the deck rail and wedged between the bulkhead and two steel rods, I sleep. Nothing between me and the wild ocean but a clothesline rope. And awake as we chug into Brindisi, all of us repeating grazie, grazie as we disembark to live another summer. Now, all these years on, we see another summer coming, relentless in its blooms and breeze and thunder rolling up the valley and apple blossoms strewn like snow flakes on the ground.
From The Geographic Cure by Ellen Dudley. Copyright © 2007 by Ellen Dudley. Reprinted with permission of Four Way Books.
Ellen Dudley is the author of The Geographic Cure (Four Way Books, 2007) and Slow Burn (Provincetown Arts Press, 1997).
Date Published: 2007-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/solstice