This poem was published in A Book of the Year 2017, the anthology of first place poems from the Poetry Society of Texas annual contests. Now that it’s July, when we’re steeped in Texas summer, it seems like a good time to share it with you. Plus, I just got home from spending a few days with my wonderful family, so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. I hope “That Summer” takes you back to some of your favorite summer memories.
I sat on a threadbare pink towel
on top of the ice cream maker
my dad and grandfather
taking turns at the crank
slicing homegrown peaches
my fingers stained
from hammering black walnuts
on the anvil in the backyard
the skin of my palms raw
from gripping the rope swing
in the hackberry tree
my mom in shorts and sandals
a glass of iced tea
sweating in her hand
my brother eating
a smile of watermelon
juice dripping down his chin
lightning bugs blinking
a slow Morse code
hummingbirds in the trumpet vine
bare feet and dirty knees
and the voices of my family
hovering in a comforting cloud
I’d like to reach back
and catch that summer
in an empty pickle jar
poke holes in the lid
and keep it for a while
warm and safe in my hands
You know, it’s funny. The last thing I posted to my blog was a poem about all the things I hadn’t accomplished yet this summer. A poem about letting the to-do lists go and enjoying the moment for what it was. A poem that exuded relaxation and an appreciation for “slow and steady.”
Then, about an hour after posting it, I began the longest, most energetic, creative binge I’ve had in a long time.
Maybe writing the poem unlocked something. Maybe accepting the fact that I couldn’t do everything allowed me to do something. Maybe the summer solstice got into my blood. Whatever the reason, during the past six days I gave my website a complete makeover, opened an Etsy shop, started several projects for my shop, and rearranged my office. (Well, actually, I’m halfway through rearranging my office. Meaning my office is a mess. Meaning I had to find my computer in order to type this.)
This week, I spent several nights staying up until 3am, flitting like a hummingbird between projects until I eventually fell asleep and dreamed of things like photo layouts and fonts. This morning when I made my bed (for the first time in days), I found a pen in it, nestled between the sheet and the comforter. The last time I remember writing anything in bed was Tuesday, which means this pen and I have been bedmates for several nights. At least the cap was on.
These summer creative binges are fun, and very productive. But they can also make a person feel a little unstable. Waking up and wondering if it’s four in the afternoon or four in the morning can be disorienting, and shopping for craft supplies on Amazon after midnight should not even be legal.
Luckily, I balanced my nighttime-crafty-hermit tendencies with daytime social events out in the real world. To all the friends I hung out with this week, I want to say thank you. You may have thought you were just having coffee or a beer with me, but really you were helping to keep me sane. (And making sure I got some vitamin D.)
It must have been a good combination because I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished.
When you get a chance, take a look around my new website. I added some color and more photos, updated my About and Favorites pages, and tried to make my Published Work easier to navigate. I also added a Shop page where you can access my new Etsy store, as well as links where you can purchase some of the books that include my writing. Let me know if you come across anything that doesn’t work or if you find that one typo I always miss.
In the meantime, I’m going to finish rearranging my office. When I’m done, I think I might sleep for a day or two.
I was going to write the great American novel
and bake the great American pie.
I was going to rid my home of every piece of clutter,
every unnecessary item of clothing,
every duplicate ladle (because really,
how many ladles does a person need?).
I was going to learn to sew
and learn to sing
and learn twenty new ways to cure the hiccups.
I was going to wash the windows and the dog
and find out, once and for all, what that one weird
vacuum attachment is really for
(because I’ve only ever used it to reach
behind the fridge for the magnet that fell off).
I was going to clean behind the fridge.
I was going to clean under the fridge.
I was going to buy a new fridge
and new fridge magnets
and rearrange them daily
to see if my husband noticed.
I was finally going to exercise.
And organize my computer files.
I sit here
with my eyes
and my face
toward the sun
the last time