False Summer

It takes only a moment,
The space between whispers of wind
On a scorching September day
As the sun roasts pavement
Two feet from where shadow shelters
A wilting garden unaware
Of how little time it has left,
And the past mixes with the present.
Fingers tracing rows and lines,
Too large now to intertwine
With the holes left in the table
Made of rubber-coated steel,
But still looking for something to hold.

The heat now is the same as then.
Merely a secondary concern,
Noted and then discarded
Like the lingering tang of a lunch
I have already long forgotten,
Because this warmth makes me weary
And I can’t afford to acquiesce
To the cool caress of the scant breeze
That seeks to send me sleepward
Into the open inviting arms
Of that patch of empty grass there.
Not because in sleep there is danger,
The normal cares of a nascent life
Mixed with the magnified cares of mine–
Bug bites, grass stains, and the unknown
On top of admonitions, allergies,
And the extant fear of forgetfulness–
But because I am called to attend
And that is all that exists to me:
Primacy given commanding form
As a task I cannot recall
And words that overwrote my existence.

The distant hum of passing cars
On a road I don’t care to cross
Felt then the same as it feels now.
A barrier marking the bounds
Of the space that makes up my world,
Giving shape to my place and time
Even if the reasons have changed
Like the shapes of my most serious fears.
This time, though, I linger longer
On the heat that seeps through me
As I consider the cool comfort
Of grass that has a history
Of always giving me hives.
And while that is reason enough,
The aching itch beyond bug bites
Has never been worth it in hindsight,
Despite the personal appeal
Of picnics, cool drinks, and the smack
Of a dry mouth after a long nap,
It is good to know that this time
I am making the choice myself.

So I stay in my sun-warmed seat
At this far too colorful table,
Make less colorful conversation,
And flow between past and present
As I am brought to the brink
Of some powerful sentiment
By something I thought I had left behind.

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