Published on Academy of American Poets (

Summer Haibun

To everything, there is a season of parrots. Instead of feathers, we searched the sky for meteors on our last night.  Salamanders use the stars to find their way home. Who knew they could see that far, fix the tiny beads of their eyes on distant arrangements of lights so as to return to wet and wild nests? Our heads tilt up and up and we are careful to never look at each other. You were born on a day of peaches splitting from so much rain and the slick smell of fresh tar and asphalt pushed over a cracked parking lot. You were strong enough—even as a baby—to clutch a fistful of thistle and the sun himself was proud to light up your teeth when they first swelled and pushed up from your gums. And this is how I will always remember you when we are covered up again: by the pale mica flecks on your shoulders. Some thrown there from your own smile. Some from my own teeth. There are not enough jam jars to can this summer sky at night. I want to spread those little meteors on a hunk of still-warm bread this winter. Any trace left on the knife will make a kitchen sink like that evening air

the cool night before
star showers: so sticky so
warm so full of light


Copyright © 2017 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 7, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The haibun form is traditionally used for recording a location in a concentrated prose block, and ends with a ‘whisper’ of sorts to the reader in the form of a haiku. I was hoping to capture a season—specifically, my favorite part of late-ish summer when the lights in the night sky almost match the light found from animals and all their longing here on earth.”
—Aimee Nezhukumatathil


Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of many books, including World of Wonders (Milkweed Editions, 2020), a NYTimes bestseller which was named Barnes and Noble's Book of the Year. She is professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi and lives with her family in Oxford, Mississippi.

Date Published: 2017-08-07

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