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An Homage to Summer

August has tipped into September and the goldenrod is in full bloom in these northern woods.  Nights are cooler now and the maples leaves are showing a hint of scarlet.  In this in-between time, I am savoring the warm days and the hikes by the lake and am reflecting back on these past few months with a sense of gratitude for a rich and fully-lived summer.  Here are three poems that I wrote in U.P. poet laureate Marty Achatz’ monthly Joy Center poetry workshops:

 

Saturdays in July

It is Market Day and our larder is full.

Bunches of spinach and braising greens,

pea shoots and kales leaves, stalks of chard,

all these greens stuffed

into the fridge, and round red radishes the size of limes

and tiny peppers, paper bags of oyster mushrooms, shitakes,

the scallions, the shallots, the garlic scapes,

fresh strawberries in cardboard containers, sweet tiny beets —

There is so much to love on Saturdays!

 

After the market,

the afternoon hike, a dip in the lake,

we chop together,

the garlic, the scallions, the chard,

the greens,

and we heat the stove,

boil the water as the summer breeze wafts in

and we find our rhythm

the two of us.

He splashes the mushrooms with olive oil.

I sprinkle on the sea salt.

He grills; I saute.

The pasta boils itself

and we toss it all together,

add fresh parsley, some parmesan,

a dash of cayenne.

We are not young anymore

but what we cook up

is peppery and succulent

and it pleases us every time.

 

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An afternoon hike: July 2018

 

 

 

A Summer Miracle

Tomorrow we will fly east

to the land

of my beginnings,

my husband and I,

and this time

we have a tag-along,

precious cargo,

our six-year-old grandson,

and I will show him things.

As we circle Portland Harbor,

I will point out the plane window —

the white caps, the lobster boats,

the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse.

I will feel it fresh within me,

how Maine is my Hawaii,

my sweet-spot place.

I will say to him

as we step out of the airport,

“Breathe it in —

it is the the ocean you smell,

the fishy salt-tanged sea”

and I will sing to him a sea-shanty song

and he will let me sing, I think,

as I drive us north on 295

through Falmouth and Yarmouth

and I will tell him

that I used to drive to Maine

with his dad, too,

when his dad was a little boy,

how sometimes in Yarmouth

we would be stuck in traffic

for a very long time

during the Clam Festival Parade

and I will ask my grandson,

“Do you know that clams live in the muddy sand

and when the tide is low

they breathe their bubbles up to the surface

and we can dig for them?”

I will not be able to stop myself;

I will keep on chattering

pointing to things

like the giant wooden Indian

that lives in front of the general store

on the outskirts of Freeport,

and then we will enter Bath,

my birth town,

and I will show him the giant crane

the ships being built,

the wide tidal river

and I will say,

“This is where your Grandma lived

right here

in this sea captain’s home.

That was my bedroom over in the corner.”

But I won’t stop, not yet–

I will drive on

because we’re not quite there.

We will cross the Winnegance Bridge,

follow the banks of the Kennebec

toward the sea

and I will roll down the window

and it is the balsam he will smell

and the mudflats and the fish

and the waves thrashing the shore

and a huge dose

of his Grandma’s happiness.

 

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Grandson and Grandma on Sister Point; Phippsburg, Maine, July 2018

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Popham Beach at sundown: Phippsburg, Maine, July 2018

 

 

 

Lake Superior

I want to write about Big Foot

and moths, giant moths,

maybe a cecropia,

about the Milky Way in July,

a meteor shower in August.

I want to write about the quiet

of a humid night,

how sometimes I sweat and stink.

I want to write about smooth granite

and prickly pine needles

and dirty feet,

about heat soaking into balsam and pine,

into skin and bones.

I want to write about a tangle of root

around rock, and, yes, there is the lake too

in front of me

but I don’t want to write about it —

because what could I possibly say?

 

I will keep on walking the rocky rooty path,

pine needles prickling my feet,

keep walking in Big Foot’s steps,

content with my sweat, my stink,

with the stars

above me

and the moths,

the big ones,

fluttering about.

I will keep walking along the shore

without saying a word

about the mightiest, the greatest of lakes.

 

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On the shore: Marquette, Michigan, Summer 2018

 

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Befriending Bigfoot: Summer 2018

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Lake Superior: Summer 2018

 

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