from LATE SUMMER

by Deborah Landau

from LATE SUMMER

*

But we already did everything –

Then it came on again and we were wearing it
like the same dress a yellow one a little worn
threadbare out of date

lying in with wine glasses in the dirty light
a bit frayed a bit baldheaded a bit torn but possible

long days in leisure long time in bed and after awhile of it another while
limeade, new york, stepping through the garbage in sandals.
Perpetually we were the same perpetually–

"Longing For Our Hero" by Stephanie Hunter JonesThen a sound loudhushed like water running
something new in the foliage
something with soil in it a little seed

something left of the bride of the cooling stream
of the boat we once rode on, gliding–

Tendrils round the neck, my favorite warm plaything,
something coming to bud, brought up again new–
July, siesta, ethereal, and spun again from the deeplocked interior.

Something unhooked from its corset unwheeled free
to shine on us in our summer bedroom, verbena sheets—

In the plain crystalline summer something fucked with us,
something recordless and without agenda
and we alone with it, indelicate.

Out of our empty room, our mortality, our
daring, something would be due and upon us.

*

And who wouldn’t in summertime,
in the dumb heat,

stoked with solstice tempted
by tongue and taking.

And me with my cap off and he with his charge
and pressure through the weeds a jonesing
barefooted without a rubber etcetera

and prevalent the sweet gum of it, billowing —
and I hoped but thought I’d be wrong about it.

(Tilled glorious forceful and gentle
and yes it was true we were able.)

And then there was someone in there
accident in a bowl boiling —

cherry jello, utero, unspooling each perfect
and upon again a summer day.

*

What climate then immodest
fully boarded was I and set off with her–

Xanax vermox rivulets radiation–ferried her flighting
to California to grow rioting drunk & dance at M’s wedding

and she just a pale and puny
welled inside me

without visa without a pretty box
dollface-down I could have scorched

her could have drowned her could have crushed her
not knowing veined was she
and my blood rich and alcohol.

She flipped around in there.
I slept off the buzz in my hotel

*

A clean line
between before and after.

Was she real then?
Stain purpling the white field
in the stall of the hotel bathroom.

(Could I could we
have trampled her underfoot –
she who set up camp there?)

*

Bloat-swaddled hugeness of August.
Its lack of bustling. Its birds.

And leaving commerce behind
taking a month there sweet to ceaseless
and essential sit in summer’s drawer.

Let a girl be born.
Let breathing.
Let the long shadows gather in the hall.

Out of our boredom and resentment,
lifeforce and providence.

Out of the spacious window of a summer weekend,
the deep-burning life of things.
July. Disquiet. The trees.

*
And just when I thought all gone asleep this dream.

I got myself a good tailing.
He pinned it on me.
Some tail, some donkey.

A sacking and stacking, a filling up
and being again and again
unexpectedly full—

There’s a prairie in the living room
like the empty space after the floor is mown.

A brightness veiled and faintly beating
from the inside now with tiny feelers.

A thing she is, out there in the water, out there in the breath.
Baking fig snug in a satchel. Such tissue, such lips.

Impaled there she sticks, vast and candescent.

*

A shelter and a saunter a song we were
and soon ungainly

and soon the sounding off of a new dumbfounded
conjunction —

what I we someone (she?) had in mind
new-leaved and life-wet,

against advice and reason —

we were exactly three then, he and I,
had thought to stay two

but just as speaking leads to kissing just as kissing
leads to you can hold him against you, you can get lit

you can bundle up in a rush you can forget
punctuation you can skip and scotch and then just

*

Raw honey the early days and thicket nights
the two of us tombed in and snoring woolside.

We were fitful but happy we were facing off,
figurines a big one and a little one

dog’s-breath, armed and arming, we were sour
and acid, milky and sweet, were visceral

and snowed in in summer and this
was celebrated and this was supreme.

*

I’m on a bike and someone’s name is forming.

The road is potholes the road is dust.

Cruising the dirt, the meadow humming with bugs.

Dust rising, tires crushing rock, bats ejecting from under the barn

streaming the insected air the pulse life repeating life looping back

slowing down getting longer though it didn’t and isn’t.

A little letting go of fear.

A little spittle in death’s eye.

Don’t ask don’t think (I didn’t ask or think).

Didn’t think don’t think.

I remember giving in to it

lying back and then

little sprout of willow

spray of the earth green of leaves the light coming down

as if through a ferny veil dirty primal randomly animate

and we are in it still.

 


The first five sections of this sequence originally appeared in
Maggy literary magazine. 

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