Each spring I become a gardener, combing through nurseries and seed catalogs and planting ever larger vegetable plots.  Gardening is wonderful in spring.  The soil is still moist and cool and dark brown and it forms a lump in your hand when you scoop it up.  You dig holes and fill them with things you hope will grow, and when they do grow you feel pleased.

Then July arrives.  Now I have to preface this by saying that I grew up in Northwood.  Not original Northwood, which has a certain cache and remains pretty green and leafy.  I lived in whatever you call the rest of Northwood, near the intersection of The Alameda and Belvedere, and summers there were a lot of hot white concrete.   There was a little playground off Northern Parkway with a slide built on a sort of pyramid, ingeniously fashioned of aluminum and directly under the sun.  Even driving down the street the light reflected harshly off the metal and made you shut your eyes.  Something about that glare, and the white blast of heat coming off the sidewalk, has stayed with me and as a result I pretty much retreat indoors for the months of July and August.  And the gardens gradually turn brownish, although I do manage to keep things alive, just not pretty.  The grass burns pretty much to hay.   That’s what I think about when I think of summer.

The Swan’s Flight
 
 
 
 
After the fire I found you still,
glowing amongst the ash.  Here
at the bottom of the valley where mist
 
 
 
 
comes to cover bodies like sleeping gas.
Amber faces aflame with themselves
not yet fully burned, like a dream
 
 
 
 
you awaken in the middle of.
So many children curled and kept
from too much emptiness,
 
 
 
 
the calendars of the mind unturned
in a moment, the orange tree in flower,
a wind that sweeps down
 
 
 
 
over singed fields leaving its scar 
in the grasses.  There you were
at the centre of it all as I circled down –
 
 
 
 
my feathers full of flights,
of the unfinished journeys caught
on the cliffs – the only place I could land.   
 

Lois P. Jones, The Swan’s Flight (from the American Poetry Journal, No. 10, J.P. Dancing Bear, ed.)