Cathexis Northwest Press
The Day After Summer
By: Monica Stevens-Kirby
The day after summer, skies fall in, walls close round, like June is the name of your only girl, coiled-tight ringlets and raspy voice.
She whistles with two fingers, strawberry mouth, whipped cream heart, to all the kids come running, hearing her from every place (at any point in time.)
Through fresh green fields, dodging thistles, to pickup games of kickball; teams are chosen fairly; silver lines etch golden threads along the bricks of memory.
Where, when their play is over,
highfives, fistbumps, exaggerated-explodes, pitching voices upward,
floats of chorus, happy humming,
All pitter-patter backdrop, firecrackers spat through night, melting down the scale of dark and snowcones through our hands.
Baseball fields will dim their lights, chatter-comfort buzzing
whispers back to warm wool days
when night will turn to chill and gust,
the blacker, longer shadows.
Summer dies with leaves that fall.
Freckles slip down faces, piling up, brown on ground,
kicking back new leather,
clipping off to school,
and bridled with the yoke,
Side-saddle rides, books in satchels, hand-me-downs,
pages pulping, perfume air,
the fog, the dust, the dirt
Thickening our atmosphere,
blanketing the heartbeat
of all creatures
settling, sinking, stabling still,
again, now, for a while.
Monica Stevens-Kirby is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who works with children and adults, particularly those who encounter issues of abuse and marginalization. Monica teaches Psychology at Middle Georgia State University and is a published writer and artist, with personal essays, therapeutic articles, poetry, and paintings featured in The Huffington Post, elephant journal, Family Therapy Magazine, and BROAD Magazine, a publication of the Women and Gender Studies Program of Chicago Loyola University. Her painting "Deaf" was highlighted in their "Dis(sed)abilities" issue. She has shown her work in juried and invitational solo and group art exhibitions throughout Georgia. Monica is married to Chris. They have one daughter, Peregrine, who is six.
"I uphold the validity of embracing the sacred mysteries of poets and their works. Still, I find a poet’s revealed insights do not limit the range of intent or the reach of that work. When I wrote this piece, I was sentimental about the waning of summer. I traveled internationally beyond what is usual for me. Naturally, these experiences were transformative, as they tend to be. Reflecting on the time spent with dear friends and family, I was wearing an ache for the return of such freedoms. Simultaneously, I was helping my daughter prepare for her return to school, and staring down the passing of time, still asking myself if I could handle her aging another year. It’s been three years, since she officially “went to school,” and I am still adjusting to not having her with me at all times. That is to say, of course, that, yes, I grow weepy and miss her being a part of my intricate daily life; yet I grow equally as weepy and wistful when I look at her, day after day, and witness her step into her being. It’s like watching the slow opening of a lotus flower, and how growth, in any form, is both painful and sublime."