Sweet smell of phlox drifting across the lawn— an early warning of the end of summer. August is fading fast, and by September the little purple flowers will all be gone.
Season, project, and vacation done. One more year in everybody’s life. Add a notch to the old hunting knife Time keeps testing with a horny thumb.
Over the summer months hung an unspoken aura of urgency. In late July galactic pulsings filled the midnight sky like silent screaming, so that, strangely woken,
we looked at one another in the dark, then at the milky magical debris arcing across, dwarfing our meek mortality. There were two ways to live: get on with work,
redeem the time, ignore the imminence of cataclysm; or else take it slow, be as tranquil as the neighbors’ cow we love to tickle through the barbed wire fence (she paces through her days in massive innocence, or, seeing green pastures, we imagine so).
In fact, not being cows, we have no choice. Summer or winter, country, city, we are prisoners from the start and automatically, hemmed in, harangued by the one clamorous voice.
Not light but language shocks us out of sleep ideas of doom transformed to meteors we translate back to portents of the wars looming above the nervous watch we keep.
"The End of Summer"
Rachel Hadas | b.1948
From Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems.
Copyright © 1998 by Rachel Hadas, Wesleyan University Press.