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Summer's End

The gates of summer, once open wide like the arms of absent friends
begin to close, haltingly, with rusty hinges creaking in cool mornings.
The fireflies that rose in steaming clouds from humid backyard lawns
have disappeared overnight as though deported to another country,
leaving thrumming cicadas overhead, pulsing like high voltage wires.
Now great baskets of tomatoes, sunset crimson and dusky orange,
delicate raspberries, their jeweled caps painting picking fingers purple,
with seeds like tiny pearls, sweet and tart with days of rain and sun,
await the sauce pots and canning jars to hold their garnet ripening.
Standing at the counter putting up fresh corn long after time for sleep
knife swiftly parting kernels from the cob, white and gold, milk dripping;
the corgi puppy gnawing fiercely at the one cob left for him
scatters kernels, golden beads tossed along the blood red floor.
The pressure of the dimming light to hold to growth and life a while longer
knowing that surrender to the dark will come, that gates must close as well as open.
I lie next to you in bed, just touching, listening to distant thunder by the river,
your steady breathing, the dog, the cat at the foot of the bed, regular as clocks.
Dreaming of red seeds and blood — the corn, the crimson jam and rust red sauce
as my own last blood begins to flow into this jar of late summer night.
Waiting for my womb's gate to close, to hold inside a few precious ruby seeds,
praying I have harvested enough, put by enough, to feed me when I'm old.

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