Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Notebook: Summertime

You may recognize this poem, or at least parts of it, because it's been posted here before. But this is the most recent draft. All poetry is in a constant state of revision; there is never a final state. That's what I actually love most about the medium. If you want to compare it with the earlier draft, here is the link.

By Blake Tan

I loved this girl in the summertime
and I remember hearing Simon & Garfunkel,
crooning “Bookends” over my car radio,
while I held her hand as she cried.
I tried to comfort her, but like that memorable May day
(when she wouldn’t tell me
how much she hated my friends)
she kept the trouble to herself –
always mysterious, always unknowable.
The odd, warm raindrops blotting my shoulder
the only proof that there was Trouble.

But when she smiled, she smiled
and Gabriel and the rest of the angelic host
seemed to reach out from behind her fragrant lips,
fruits of Paradise beckoning,
When she laughed, she laughed,
the dimples on her cheeks like budding perennials,
and we would forget so we could lose ourselves in the summertime.

In the hottest afternoons, the swimming pool was our refuge.
It was my guiltiest pleasure to watch as she removed her cover up,
bathing in the unforgiving, summer heat as if
the sun’s rays were the white foam of waves upon the beach.
Her limbs are long and shapely like the necks of Aphrodite’s swans
and her skin as smooth as silken cream.

With her faintest touch
I become like a million fish wriggling
to be free of the trawler’s nets.
Stars go supernova in my chest
and are born again,
the space dust accreting around
what once was my heart.

But as summertime rallied for the last act,
the curtains twisting, backstage crew anticipating
the grand finale where the whole cast breaks into song,
Trouble came crashing through the stage.
Mayday! Mayday!
I should have heard the warnings, seen the signs,
nonetheless it took me by surprise.
“I think we should break up.”
The inevitable response. “Why?”
“Don’t you feel it too?”
The confusion, like climbing a stair to find a step missing.
“Feel what?”

At my supplication, we met one last time
by the window seat of our favorite Starbucks.
I lost many tears to that cup of cappuccino,
rippling over the milky surface,
while she tried to help me accept
the death of us.
“All you’ll remember now is how messy this was.”
Her reply, accompanied by the softest smile. “Not true.”
“How so?”
“Remember when we skipped class
last September to get ice cream at Ro’s?”
she said, her parting words
like a bumblebee trying to pollinate my ear.
“That was the best.”
It was an August day:
her gauzy, white dress in the orange afternoon,
polka dots like yellow canaries
fluttering to and fro across powdered snow,
dancing, dancing away.

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