Thursday, September 22, 2011

Summer's End

As summer comes to a close, here are two pieces by Claudine Harris to celebrate the season.

All Things Shimmering

     Never been to Missouri, never expect to go there. But every summer a day comes when boxes of their bounty piles into my co-op store. Missouri peaches are here! One of the embellishments of summer. Long awaited. Long dreamed of. Peaches arrive the same week Marvin's sweet corn is heaped high on the counter, its brown silks limply cascading from tight green husks, like so many dark tresses on a pillow. Corn fresh from the field. There is none better, swiftly, slightly simmered, and eaten at once.
     Summer mornings are too hot, even at dawn, to tempt a walk through the neighborhood before settling down to writing. A pair of goldfinches beyond my window cling upside down on the drying stalks of catnip and nameless weeds, pecking at the seeds of August. Blossoms of impatiens in the rock wall await silently the brief thunderstorm that may bring them relief.
     Evening is corn on the cob, glistening droplets on my window screen, and a peach.
     August is all things shimmering.


     At last a summer day like those in childhood, bright and clear, wind free, dry. Endless. A day to chase butterflies, made mud pies in the shade and color them with the rainbow tables in a paintbox.
     Climb a tree to near its top and sway there, holding tight, hoping to see a boat leave the dock on the lake at Vevey. Summer in 36, 37? But this is Iowa, already the end of August.
     The paintbox is long abandoned with the dolls. Trees are not climbable and no lake stretches out, lazy, to distant blue-gray slopes. Butterflies only seldom flitter by the window.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Iowa Rhapsody

by Loren Horton

Summer heat
Punctuated by flashes
             of lightening
To a background continuo
             of bass thunder
Leavened by the heaviness
             of humid air
So fitting a stage setting
For picnics, fireworks
Small town festivals
When communities unite
In a social family reunion

The leaves thick on sturdy branches
The grass burned with brown patches
And the native wildflowers
Overwhelmed with yellow
Interrupted by occasional bluish-purple
Rivers and creeks
Flow sluggishly by grassy banks
Lack of regular rain
Reduces the volume of water
Redecorating for turtles and frogs
And making bullhead habitat smaller
The swimming holes are challenging

When all these phenomena
Come together in this season
Summer becomes collective
A mosaic of these myriad parts
But coalesced into a visible whole
Understood by those who live in it
Mysterious and alien to strangers
Who have never known the joy
Of standing on a back porch
To watch the lightening strikes
Illuminate the dense cloudbank
To listen to the crash of thunder

The character-building nature
Of these aggregate experiences
Create a comradeship of sorts
Based on mixed common feelings
Shared by those who have known
The pleasures and the pain
Endured the physical discomforts
Been exhilarated at the sense
Of survival in face of obstacles
Understood most fully
By the band of brothers and sisters
Who have grown up in Iowa