Swimming to September

Beneath a starry sky, amid a cacophony of crickets and the clicking of katydids, I swim to the end of August and the start of September. The branches of the seven sons’ flower tree are filled with their late-season blooms – small and unassuming, but packing a potently perfumed punch. On these muggy nights, the pool water has remained warm, a quasi-amniotic fluid in which I float, looking up at the light blanket of clouds, re-born at the end of summer, and trying valiantly to hang on, to hold tight to a season that must soon end. The last full month of summer has gone. September is not coming soon – it’s already here. And so, a poem, for knowing when to let go:

In Blackwater Woods
By Mary Oliver

Look, the trees

are turning

their own bodies

into pillars


of light,

are giving off the rich

fragrance of cinnamon

and fulfillment,


the long tapers

of cattails

are bursting and floating away over

the blue shoulders


of the ponds,

and every pond,

no matter what its

name is, is


nameless now.

Every year


I have ever learned


in my lifetime

leads back to this: the fires

and the black river of loss

whose other side


is salvation,

whose meaning

none of us will ever know.

To live in this world


you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it


against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go.



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