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Indian Summer

Dawn bailing out the sluggish dark as if
the day still might right itself in the wake
of the equinox—

in this season of the second thought,
with its clear blue falsetto sky and flashbacks to crimson.
Like spring, in a bolder key.

By now, each day's an anniversary of something—
a first or final touch, or kiss, or blow . . .

back to a split-level girlhood in the Appalachian South:
pom-poms and curlers and a red-leather Bible
embossed with my gold name.

I left home with a pedigree of Pentecost
and Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Which I did, in my earnest and wanton way.

Last night a cake on fire and plastic cups of champagne.

Today, it's drunken bees in a wheelbarrow of windfall rot,
and poison, tit for tat, on the poison ivy.

Think what you wish for, they cheered
as I blew the decades out—
think, think.

A storm front slips across another state line,
moist touch to the cheek of the rain-starved air.

And who could begrudge the geese and the asters,
the last field of corn shriveling in the October sun?

Yet I keep my eye on the conscientious oak
and, closer, the slender limbs of the locust,

trifling with the wind through my bay window glass.

The pang that passes understanding—
and, all morning, a cello's mahogany grief.

Where else but in this small white room can I weep,
not wronged or widowed,
forgiver or forgiven?

Outside in the breezy yard, the sun blusters on,
and hard buds tighten on vines—
little think tanks,
with their far-fetched scenarios of pink.

The days slide round again to this one, drawn back
as if to the scene of a crime,
and the heart still sifting through the evidence.

What do you mean by "my"? chides the wind,
unraveling the maples with its Buddhist hands.

The sky shakes out a scribble of starlings,
then erases them
from its lavender slate.
Why are they more real once I want to tell you of them?

Grief, love, anger—which would I send
as a swoop of starlings over shattered fields?

And beyond them, in a nonchalance of dusk, the moon
full again and face to face
with the unwavering light of Venus.

Lynn Powell

Season of the Second Thought
University of Wisconsin Press

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