Today is the first official day of fall, but here in Austin it’s midsummer. The temperatures are still in the 80s and 90s…and I love it. In New York summer always felt too short, and I’m glad that summer here will stretch into…October? November? I guess I’ll soon find out.
One of my favorite poems that I heard at Bread Loaf this summer was Midsummer by Louise Gluck. It was lovely to hear it read aloud by her in August in Vermont—there was something ethereal about her reading, and when she finished reading this poem all I wanted to do was to read it again. When I came home I was glad to find it online. Here is the first stanza:
by Louise Gluck
On nights like this we used to swim in the quarry,
the boys making up games requiring them to tear off the girls’ clothes
and the girls cooperating, because they had new bodies since last summer
and they wanted to exhibit them, the brave ones
leaping off the high rocks—bodies crowding the water.
The nights were humid, still. The stone was cool and wet,
marble for graveyards, for buildings that we never saw,
buildings in cities far away.
And the last stanza, which is my favorite:
The summer night glowed; in the field, fireflies were glinting.
And for those who understood such things, the stars were sending messages:
You will leave the village where you were born
and in another country you’ll become very rich, very powerful,
but always you will mourn something you left behind, even though
you can’t say what it was,
and eventually you will return to seek it.