How hard it is to take September
straight – not as a harbinger
of something harder.
Merely like suds in the air, cool scent
scrubbed clean of meaning – or innocent
of the cold thing coldly meant.
How hard the heart tugs at the end
of summer, and longs to haul it in
when it flies out of hand
at the prompting of the first mild breeze.
It leaves us by degrees
only, but for one who sees
summer as an absolute,
Pure State of Light and Heat, the height
to which one cannot raise a doubt,
as soon as one leaf’s off the tree
no day following can fall free
of the drift of melancholy.
from A Kiss in Space (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), © Mary Jo Salter 1999, used by permission of the author