Thursday Thoughts: On summer
last week that it's way more rewarding to share my writing for others to read than to just hide it away forever in a digital folder. So here we are! Here's the poem, "On summer":
a time of overwhelming freedom
cavernous as the sky
a cleared-out mind
now empty, filling with whatever it can find
a postcard-perfect sun
that singes the sidewalks
and sucks your energy dry.
On Monday my father and I
decide to walk down to our neighborhood pool,
and I attempt to set the world record,
"Longest Time to Change into Bathing Suit,
Grab Pool Supplies,
and Tie Shoes."
It is the second pool visit of our summer,
likely my last summer
before the terrors of adulthood
take over all my free time.
But for now,
summer is just the opened and unopened books on the shelf,
the oft-avoided to-do list,
the wavering pool waters.
My father and I cut through the alley,
walk under the trees,
avoid the swarms of flies,
and unlock the front gates.
In the opening pages of that book,
Ari met Dante at the pool
and everything began,
but I long ago realized
the only social interaction I'd have at the pool
was uncomfortable small talk.
The dream of neighborly neighbors,
like in A Map into the World,
is so far away.
So I keep away from others,
and while it's nice to spread out,
to take up space,
like Ellie in Starfish,
I make sure that I don't get in anyone's space
and that they don't get in mine.
My father looks like the cover of Ramona Blue,
sitting at the bottom of the pool,
breathing out occasional bubbles,
sitting still down there as the seconds pass.
I try to meet him there,
flailing my arms
as if I can shove myself
down to the bottom,
floating around like a bouncy ball
before getting sick of holding my breath
and coming back up for air.
Sometimes my life feels like this,
like everyone else has their spot in the world,
their calm space at the bottom of the pool,
but I insist on flailing around,
leaning this way and that,
bending away from this career,
that piece of life advice,
this truth about myself.
Sometimes the fears in my head come as rapidly
as the bubbles I am blowing out.
Sometimes I start to get nervous,
and I have to snap out of it
before the pool drains
start to look like giant abysses
waiting to swallow me up whole,
and that eerie indoor pool
where Bea and Lou swam in Are You Listening?
starts to become my reality.
Sometimes I start to dissect every little bit of my life,
searching for the magic moment when it all comes together,
when I reach the climax of this story
and find the path to falling action
and I discover the wise truth about life
I can shout from the rooftops
or write down quietly for a few to see.
for all of its faults,
has a trick up its sleeve.
Summer is when I pick up a book
and become entranced,
living someone else's life
and meeting the most wondrous people.
Summer is when I toss a ball with my family in the water,
gaze through my goggles and see the other side of the pool,
float around and pull my legs up toward me,
listen to my father and brother talk about whatever comes to mind
during the 30-second drive home.
Summer creates the morass of angst
and then frees me from it.
Summer is when I swim across the pool,
arms and legs in sync,
no longer flailing,
and even as my limbs burn
and I remember why I quit swim lessons so long ago,
as I swim freestyle and breaststroke,
on a rhythm of movements and breathing,
I am in control.
I am weightless.
And for just a moment,
I am free.
What does summer mean for you? Let me know in the comments below! And stay tuned for future Thursday Thoughts posts and my book reviews on Mondays!