Three Songs at the End of Summer
by Jane Kenyon
A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority.
Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils.
Across the lake the campers have learned
to water ski. They have, or they haven't.
Sounds of the instructor's megaphone
suffuse the hazy air."Relax! Relax!"
Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.
Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.
The cicada's dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.
Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?
A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket ...
In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.
The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.
I had the new books--words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend--and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.
Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.
Jane Kenyon, "Three Songs at the End of Summer" from Collected Poems. Copyright �© 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.
Source: Poetry (September 1988).
Welcome to a brand new feature---The Poem of the Week!
We'll post a new poem here each week--or whenever we get around to it.
Some kinda sad, like the one by Jane Kenyon posted above, some funny,
some totally impenetrable which some of us will respond to by saying,
"hmmmm" or "ahhhh, yes."
Anyway, the point is poetry is fun, kids! Please send us (firstname.lastname@example.org) suggestions for poems you think we should feature. Also please post your comments about the ones we choose. I chose the above poem because how beautifully Kenyon captures the dread of waiting for the school bus. Change of the seasons, overwhelming sadness, little kid by the side of the road: what more do you want from a poem?
Tell us. We'd like to know.