Sunday, August 14, 2011

August Night


Twilight falls on an August evening. A sprinkler waters a neighbor's lawn with a cha cha cha shewwww cha cha cha shewwww. A thousand crickets begin their orchestra in the darkened park.

I have to go put on long pants and slippers, the air is so unusually cool. A quick tour of the garden earlier, after we came home from a friend's dinner party, shows some of the dahlia buds have begun breaking into flower on plants that haven't yet bloomed. It's been a strange summer in this usually hot neck of the woods. The garden looks like a midsummer garden, vigorous and full of life.

Four years ago, in the dog days of summer, I sat on a bench in the park next to my house and wrote a poem about the sad state of the garden. It was a different kind of August then, the unrelenting heat speeding the cycle of life and death.

The Poetry Jam prompt for Monday is "evening," and I thought of that poem. It surprises me how great the sense of loss is, when life cycle winds down and plants turn to the production of seed. Seed is a promise of resurrection, but it doesn't arouse hope in me in August. In early spring, yes. In August, seed is an ending, a reason to lament.

The Garden of Dry Bones

The long warm light of an August evening
strikes the black petals of a blown red rose.
Leaves of the dahlias droop; flowers rot
where they have fallen.
Dust drifts in the still yellow air.
Even the ground is tired.

All the bright blooms have faded.
In wild abandon, the sunflowers
throw back their heads, dripping seed.
The herbs, pungent and robust a month ago,
spend their straggling selves on seed.
Seed is the coin of late summer.

Seeds, and more seeds, fall from the
carcasses of flowers, like dry bones.
The golden light of August slants
through the graveyard of the garden.
Bereft, the gardener picks dry leaves
from the hollyhock.

In the waning light of August
the earth falls silent slowly,
the fading note of a violin.
Onward plows the cycle.
Downward bows the rose.
This is how love leaves you
one dead flower at a time.

12 comments:

Dianne said...

Oh Kitten
this is sossoso sad. I know you are missing your mother these past weeks.
The anniversaries move in hard, whether we want them or not.

You are continuous bloom to me!
Will we see your petals at Poet's Night Out?

Di

Brian Miller said...

nice...great picture in the graveyard of the garden...and the earth slowly growing silent before its long sleep...nice chris...

Magpie said...

You've captured the moment perfectly.

Monkey Man said...

This has a very dark feel that makes me picture black and white images of the dying garden. Very nice.

RNSANE said...

Oh, my Chris, you paint a picture with your words as brilliantly as any artist puts scenes on canvas with oils. I can just see. I can just see the fading days of your once plush garden in the August heat.

Zed said...

This one, a blow to the solar plexus. Deep and grief laden. Poignant and exquisite, yet again. x

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

dry bones...hmmmm....

Isn't it great what can happen as dry bones receive quenching waters and the light warm wet permeate the humus suddenly germination and ... WOW!

Strummed Words said...

So glad this vivid dying garden was from the past and that your present garden is in full bloom. Love that things can change for the better.

Syd said...

The waning light reminds me of Faulkner's book Light in August. Love that title. Sad poem about love leaving. And just as I was ready for the heat of summer to be over, I am feeling a bit of regret that the poignancy of fall is coming.

Helen said...

The entire poem is lovely .. my favorite lines are the last of each stanza!! (which could become one poem on their own)

Rachel Fox said...

Killer last line!
x

Lolamouse said...

The ending packs a real punch. August is such a difficult month for so many.

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