With July well underway, we’ve put together a list of transportive pieces that encapsulate the spirit of summer—the dust above the country roads, the coolness of the waterfronts, the anticipation of autumn, and of course, the sticky, melting sweetness of ice cream. Take a trip through space and time with these summery selections.
“The Summerbook of Giyorgis Balthus” is a powerfully visual poem in twelve parts, brought to us by Ishion Hutchinson, a Jamaica-born poet and essayist.
“The lindens at attention reflected / in the lake, witnesses, invisible, / to the sole heron on the stone / lion’s head, and that emblem / became our passion, the bridge / jostled with crowds and the sun / and bicycles fluttering towards Lethe…”
“A Ceremony for Yellow House” is a dispatch that not only paints vivid topography and vegetation, but honors an important moment in American history. This piece comes to us from Kabl Wilkerson, Citizen Band Potawatomi, born and raised in the West Texas Panhandle.
“…My air conditioner was broken, and I had my windows down to keep me cool. I listened to the wind whip while I looked out onto the plains- peppered with mesquite trees and knee-high grasses that waved like golden khaki oceans in the wind.”
In the poem “West Eugene Dawn, Summer Solstice,” the speaker characterizes a restless awakening on a summer morning. Published a year later, “South Eugene Dawn, Summer Solstice” reveals a more unsettled, less fulfilled ethos. Both of these pieces come from James Alan Gill, former longtime Dispatches Editor for The Common.
“Out the door, we hear in the silences / Between the few passing cars beginning / To travel our street, birds— / Robin and chickadee and jackdaw— / Flying or sitting somewhere nearby / Under the morning gray.” (from “West Eugene Dawn”)
“A year later, and I’m up at dawn again on the longest day. Last time it was driving you to a job you tried so hard to like. This time, it’s me, delivering papers in the limbo between yesterday and today. The date on the front page is tomorrow in my mind because I haven’t slept, but today hasn’t started…” (from “South Eugene Dawn”)
Jennifer Acker, founder and editor-in-chief of The Common, brings us a creamy catalog of ice cream places in her life as well as the sweet morsel of wisdom below.
“This weekend, be kind to yourself: Find the best ice cream or gelato near you. Lap it up and go for more. Talk to the owners and get their story. One day share a dish with a loved one; the next, sit on a bench by yourself and think summer thoughts, or no thoughts at all.”
“Summer at the Brooklyn Army Terminal” is a dispatch from Brooklyn, NY, in which Susan Harlan, an English professor and writer, meditates on the finality of things while taking shelter from the New York heat by the edge of the water.
“Sometimes at the end of things, if you find you need an ending, you have to impose one. The army terminal, with its incidental loveliness, was an ending for me, or maybe it was just a place where one thing became another, where land and time gave way.”
“Four Skies” is a quartet of poems that transform the sky and its depths and colors into a place of their own, penned by poet and Issue 16 contributor Joanna Klink.
“You are unscathed. The delicate grasslands / have thinned to pure sound traveling across miles / of white dust. The rustling of stalks and small wings / into incandescent violet air…”