“End of Summer”

My wife stopped me in my tracks this morning when she read me the following poem, which is in the current New Yorker:

End of Summer
by James Richardson

Just an uncommon lull in the traffic

so you hear some guy in an apron, sleeves rolled up,

with his brusque sweep brusque sweep of the sidewalk,

and the slap shut of a too thin rental van,

and I told him no a gust has snatched from a conversation

and brought to you, loud.

                                    It would be so different

if any of these were missing is the feeling

you always have on the first day of autumn,

no, the first day you think of autumn, when somehow

the sun singling out high windows,

a waiter settling a billow of white cloth

with glasses and silver, and the sparrows

shattering to nowhere are the Summer

waving that here is where it turns

and will no longer be walking with you,

traveller, who now leave all of this behind,

carrying only what it has made of you.

Already the crowds seem darker and more hurried

and the slang grows stranger and stranger,

and you do not understand what you love,

yet here, rounding a corner in mild sunset,

is the world again, wide-eyed as a child

holding up a toy even you can fix.

                                                 How light your step

down the narrowing avenue to the cross streets,

October, small November, barely legible December.

Sure enough, I went down to the beach late this afternoon, the same beach where only four days ago hung with the vapors of a moist, southern heat wave; and instead of the balminess I remembered, I saw clear, blue cloudless skies and felt a cool, almost chilly breeze.  Only the warmth of the water carried the reminder of the tropics that so recently drifted through here. 

It almost feels like the poem brought the change in the weather.  It certainly set the scene for the day.  

Why do I miss that icky, sticky heat wave?  Well, I really don’t.  It kept me awake and made it hard to concentrate on anything, especially work.   But the beach was amazing in a way it probably won’t be again for a long time.  I wish I’d thought to spend more time there.


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