A Bouquet of Summer Flowers

 

 

By Ellery Littleton. Ellery will be returning to The Haven with his program The Spirit Journal in the Spring of 2020.

Summer is upon us. Generally the most beloved of the four seasons, summer also comes with a fair share of the blues and the déjà vues. Like me, I imagine many people have memories of wonderful summer adventures, and romances lost in the heat and the haze. Of all the seasons, in my experience, summer is the most elusive one; it slips through my fingers and my memory like quicksilver. I have found that I can’t hang on to what happens day by day, week by week, and by the time September arrives, I’ve lost most of the intimate details of summer and autumn is approaching fast.

In order to capture some sense of summers past – how I felt and what I did – I wrote a poem for every day of three consecutive summers a few years ago, trying my best to catch the essence of how they were. 

Journaling is a fine way to capture memories of days gone by – details about who, what, where and when. And sometimes why. But poetry is a unique way to conjure up vivid details about a moment, an afternoon, an evening, an intimate observation, an instant awareness, a sudden understanding. 

I have chosen several poems from three summers which flowed by in recent years, and put them together in some kind of nosegay of words for me and for you. I hope that somewhere in this bouquet there may be a sweet or poignant memory or two for you to savor.

 

June 28

A day of sensory delights.

A crate of fresh local strawberries,

each one a sunburst of summer

flavor. Wild roses, tiny and pink,

exuding champagne bubbles

of scent fit for a forest sprite.

A view across the bay from

a bench under a spray of yellow

broom. Memories of seasons

long gone down the path to the

beaches of yesterday when the

afternoon sun was a little too hot,

the breeze not quite cool enough, 

and everything delicious, including

the girl in the blue bathing suit

which was bluer than her eyes,

bluer even than the sky, bluer

than my adolescent heart.

 

July 1

Summer evening,

silent and mild. 

I tip-toe across

the dew-soaked lawn

to stand in the light

of the crescent moon.

Tonight, even the stars 

are whispering.

 

July 9

There are two sides to the coin

of feeling alone; heads or tails,

it all depends upon the day.

Heads you win.

You enjoy feeling alone.

You take time for your self,

and your self needs

some time with you.

You rake the lawn.

You go for a walk.

You avoid long conversations.

You don’t make any plans

for the evening, and spend

an hour or two reading

a good book. You go to bed

early and sleep like a baby,

because you are a baby

in this state of grace, cradled

in the arms of Morpheus.

Tails you lose.

You are lonely.

You have too much

time on your hands

and it weighs heavy.

You’re too tired

to go for a walk.

You want to call somebody

But you don’t know who.

Everybody is busy anyway,

and nobody loves you.

You crash in front of the TV

And go to bed late.

You sleep wretchedly;

it’s too hot; dark dreams

ebb and flow on the tide

of your unconscious.

That’s sort of the way

It goes in this life.

 

July 15

It’s all going on without me

In my yard and garden.

Flowers are blooming and dying,

fading to brown, dust to dust,

then it déjà vu next summer again,

reincarnation in red and blue.

Sitting quietly in my chair

In the afternoon shade, I am aware

of the exquisitely complex layers

of life all around me, radiating

out in concentric circles, ripples

in an infinite pond reaching

all the way from my garden

to the outer rim of the galaxy,

with me at the center. Yeah

right, I’m a legend in my own

back yard, and when I’m gone,

it will still all be going on without me.

 

July 20

Summer evening …

it’s no trivial matter

being human.

 

July 29

I scooped up the sun

in my bucket

and spilled it

glittering

on the grass

 

August 4

A favorite nephew is married,

My sister’s youngest son.

Many of us, mellowing about

her flower-splashed garden,

have never met before, but

we come together, strangers

in the brilliant sunshine,

to witness the beginning

of another chapter in

the rambling family novel.

Familiar words, food and drink,

eloquent toasts from surprising

people, laughter and fresh tears,

cameras, candles and cake.

As darkness falls, the ritual

unfolds under a nearly full moon.

An auspicious occasion!

The destiny of the family

is enhanced!

 

August 13

Even the moon

looks a little tired

tonight we said,

leaving the party early.

 

August 26

On the cusp of another September

I am busy with my broom, watching

the ground, watching the sky, saying

goodbye to my father the sun

and hello to my sister the moon.

 

September 10

This summer, I notice 

I have been writing

about the moon almost

every day. Reading 

too much of the haiku 

heroes of old Japan, 

I guess: Basho, Issa,

Shiki and Buson.

But why not write about

the moon? Rather than

all the old stale stuff:

the morning blahs

the midnight blues

the tired baggage

hollow ambitions

empty promises

expectations unfulfilled.

Let’s write about

The moon instead.

 

September 19

(At a memoir-writing workshop, Haven)

Pens scratching,

long deep sighs,

flute playing

in quiet space.

The invisible

cloak of privacy

enfolds each person

descending deep

into the sacred

well of memory.

*****************

Ellery will be returning to The Haven after an absence of two years, and will be offering his program The Spirit Journal in the Spring of 2020. For those who enjoy journal writing, this program provides an opportunity to explore deeply in the sacred well of the self. Keep an eye on our website for the date of this remarkable workshop.

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