Closing Down Summer

The water shimmers in early morning.
Fog slides away into coves, gloves coming off fingers,
Exposing nearby fishermen huddling in their brawny bass boats.
Blue gills hunker down
into the dark recesses of cat tail stems and roots,
bobbing around black walnuts
that plunk into the water to the tune of nature’s beat.

When we close the lid on summer,
floating the green tarp, then the gray, over the boat,
the lake is brimming with memories –
of a kayak under a full moon
with each stroke of a paddle,
a quick glance over the shoulder –
is that a chainsaw
or the buzz of cicadas leftover from last year?

Of mornings made new by a puppy
first learning to boat, then float
finally to paddle, a stroke backed into, after losing his footing on the dock.
Of meanderings in the marital bed quietly taking a back seat
to canines, canoes and cornhole.

Of learning to drive a boat – again.
“Idle” moves the boat forward –
has someone reported this to Webster’s?
And in “neutral” the boat slithers across the water,
drifting into buoys and sludge.
Of cuss words when ropes are caught in the motor
and kudos when a skier cuts a swath through the wake,
drops the rope, then slowly slides away.

Of fireworks bursting above the walnut trees.
Then after, while silently watching these side by side with my brother,
boats putter past the dock, lit up green and red like Christmas.
Of Left-Right-Center, a game for all ages.
Mother removes her chips from each pile instead of giving them up
determined to win though she has forgotten the game.

Finally, when smoke off the fireworks fades, the sky fills with stars,
a Lite Brite board after the holes have been poked.
Each star is reflected upon the crest of the silent waves,
each light point becomes a memory
when we look back in the mirror
of our summer and see ourselves –
Young, old, tan, rested, aching from hauling wood and furniture
and kayaking through coves, catching the same stinky fish twice,
suspended in the water by jackets, buoyed by life.

The next morning, the ladder is lifted from the lake,
jelly-like eggs still cling to the rungs
waiting to be hatched in order to be caught.
The last campfire is resurrected,
sturdy cherry logs stubbornly will not burn away.
Brief flames consume stale marshmallows
that slipped off sticks the night before.
Then, in the smoldering,
a distant memory drifts across the ghost in the graveyard field –
summer taking its last breath.



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