Poem: “The Month of August”

August always feels like a fast, flurried month. No holiday gives it special significance; summer is practically over, autumn rushing in to take its place. It’s a month of transition, and as such, I find it easy to overlook. August acts as a kind of bridge between vacation season and study season, rather than being a season of its own.

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So, I don’t know about you, but I need a reminder to pause occasionally, especially in August, when I tend to focus on the summer days behind me and the work days ahead. (Not that remembering and planning are bad. On the contrary—they’re necessary!) But even so, sometimes I need to stand still and absorb where I am right nowTime spent with my sister while she’s still on summer break, for instance, even just laughing together or singing along with our favorite musicals in the car—those moments are worth protecting and cherishing.

I wrote a poem nearly two years ago, in my last year of college, which I titled “The Month of August” for no very particular reason. I wrote the piece for a poetry class, during a unit on Imagism. Not sure how successful I was at being “imagistic,” especially since that’s not my natural approach to poetry, but I enjoyed the challenge of trying something different.

Now, looking back, I can see how this poem does attempt to capture something unique about August—something I didn’t fully recognize at the time, ironically. The poem presents one still, simple image, like a framed photo or the view through a window. My hope is that the poem’s stillness encourages a depth of perception, a penetrating gaze that quietly considers our present circumstance and cherishes it while it lasts.

The Month of August
Porch pillars frame this
barefoot mother and child,
indoor light bracing
their backs—
                         her hand
like a seafarer’s points
starward, somewhere above
the small horizon of grass
and silhouetted pines.
Her son gazes, hugging
her knee, and the asters
gaze, and spectacles hold
open the half-read book
on the wicker chair, where
the cat sits and gazes
with them.
                    Oddly the night
glints, white-freckled,
like a wet window;
and the boy wonders which
flecks are fireflies, which
are stars—unless they’re all
small, bright-hearted stars.

 

© Rachelle Ferguson, 2016

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