September’s End

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2012: POETRY

by Julia Spicher Kasdorf

after Rilke

Little one, let the monarchs flex and rest
on the sand before their long migrations.

Ease your head onto the float as the sun
sinks red on the ridge, summer done,

no one else at the lake but a Russian
who strokes and strokes on the far side

of the rope. Soon enough we’ll dress
and hurry home in sudden darkness.

If you remember anything from this time,
let it be heavy-seeded sunflowers bent

over the bed where we pinched tiny stars
from a tomato vine. Whatever is not in fruit

now will never ripen. Whoever is alone
will linger in the hardware store on the edge

of town where compact, taciturn men
in tee shirts and caps provide what is needed–;

the screw to fix our slipping doorknob, outlet
covers, bailer twine—then, as humbly, take returns

without suspicion or reproof. One lifts the last
sacks of play sand into our trunk. Just past

the lumber yard, a field of soybeans flares
for us like a startled flock of canaries.

 

Julia Spicher Kasdorf, professor of English and women’s studies at Pennsylvania State University, grew up in a Mennonite home in Pennsylvania, attended Goshen College and New York University, and she has published three collections of poetry, two books of non-fiction about Mennonite history and culture, and edited an anthology of poetry about Brooklyn, New York. She lives in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and worships at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in State College, Pennsylvania. “September’s End,” from Poetry in America, by Julia Spicher Kasdorf © 2011. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.