Portrait in Summer

Person walking the street in Singapore.
Photo by Zhu Liang.

Portrait in Summer

You wander in and out of rain.
The city encloses you. You feel
the darkening of its metals, above ground
and below. Every night
you touch a boundary you don’t understand.
Even asleep you crave sleep,
you hold the moving hours like water.
Rickety dreams, a high feeling of poplars
at the far edge of two fields. Motors
carry you, or your feet pull you forward
in cool dispersals of color.
What happens each day to you
is delicate craft and commerce, each promising
everything, promising
nothing. You are close. The storefronts
signal to you, warm tides of sun
against the steel building walls.
You are tired, headstrong,
a heart fogged with twilights, borne by
survival. Without silence
you would be thoroughly broken.
In the morning you say to the air I am
neither here nor there. You press
up against your bounds. Did you relinquish
the ones you loved, the parts of you
that loved them? You return to the city
by train, by car, you count the slower hours,
the cold black grace
upheld again by night. Noon
hardens the range of your dreams,
early evenings settling with the soft
sounds from alleys. Each day
you get a small thing right. Each day
something forgotten or unsaid or just missed.
Wine blackens in your veins as the hedges
by the park fill with sparrows, a poorly kept
secret. Your weightlessness
is that of summer trees
and seaside towns. Your heaviness
is all tenantry, the battle to be here,
anywhere, the faint path you were tipped from
that now looks like crowds, hustling, a few daily
terrors. You are homesickness,
thirst, each abrasion inside love, whole
lifetimes. You were absorbed into night
before night even came,
with all the swimming lights inside you.

—Joanna Klink from The Nightfields

Via David Kanigan.

Leave a Comment