A Poem at the end of Summer
The time it takes for a green melon
To become dessert on a summer evening
My great uncle had to give.
He’d bring home one melon at a time,
And he’d mark the end of it with
An X and a Y axis
And he’d put that fruit in the window
Rotating it one quadrant at a time
And he’d feel it, pressing his fingers into the flesh
To measure ripeness
And after as many days as necessary
He’d take a knife to that melon, and he would have dessert.
The same way with acorn squash.
He taught me to scoop out the seeds from a halved squash
To add brown sugar and butter and to let it be
For as long as it took to savor a martini
And then to sit down to this marvel of autumn
With a spoon and to ladle for myself
So much summer sunshine, so many breezes, so much rain,
The taste of the earth, the feel of the thick hands that pulled the weeds,
That made this squash happen.
You stop and you rest.
You drink the martini and you think about a summer day,
And you taste it.
That is so much better than tolling the cost of war in dead or damaged brothers.
The heartbreak of your mother.
The swallowing of your son by a merciless river.
The passing of your wife.
Just a few days can turn a green melon into a summer dream.
Just a few days can ransom your soul from the shackles of loss
And the hell of others’ dreams.
This September day, I remember my great uncle,
His home, and the squash in the oven we waited for
As he savored his martini and I nursed a Coke.
He asked me questions I could not answer.
He taught me to wait as he waited.
As we waited.
Eventually, we sat down to dinner,
And we tasted sunshine and forever and the end.
Right now, I wonder if I could taste the forever of my dreams,
If I could let him go.