Summer solstice, 2021

Two mallards weave
through duckweed
past a sunning turtle.

Cicada song-waves
dwindle, the day’s
incessant roar has faded.
The half-moon’s high.

Down by the water’s edge
below the dam
a Guatemalan fishes,
tends his line in silence.

Gentle Juneteenth music
wafts across the water––
a guitarist improvises
over a slow bass, not loud,
a singer takes it, swells,
and draws in other voices.

There’s muted laughter
and the clink of glasses.
Peace in the air. And time––
time to walk another hour.

The perforated trail
is strewn with brittle carcasses,
spent mates who only just
emerged––seventeen years
in darkness.

I’m grateful to be human.

A handsome runner overtakes
and passes me. I watch
his back, his easy rhythm
as he disappears shirtless
into switchgrass––feathery,
green, seductive.

I pick first blackberries,
suck and savor
the tart-sweet juice.

Below quadruple oaks
upstream above the dam
a doe drinks, knee-deep.
Catbirds, robins fly across,
and then a mockingbird¬¬––
oh, to be a mockingbird.

In a wild arbor, urgent warbling,
a thrush’s liquid trill.
Robins twitter. A jay cries out.

Across the stream up further,
on higher, level ground
chest-high thoroughwort
and milkweed bloom.

Our mighty beech’s sapling
brood has grown into a bower
beneath a bower of poplars,
hickories, a gigantic ash.

The crickets have begun
their evensong.

I reach the bow-bend
of our little brook, lean
against our favorite beech,
slide to sit, listen to a solo bird
and a woodpecker drumming,
the ring of hollow wood,

remember how we bantered
here, and then descended
through the vaulting pines,
walking side by side. Would
that I could be your Orpheus.

This evening, I feel sure
that I would not look back.