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  • July arrives in Vermont on notes of August:
    A dull insect drone, heat swells,
    A pre-dawn sky pinked out and muted.

    Is that a grasshopper already?

    Can it be that
    The fireflies have snuffed their lights
    For another season
    The peepers have peeped, the phoebes have fledged
    And the peony-and-lilac show curtain has come down?

    It’s tempting to feel dispirited
    By loss, tragedy, absence
    Of the bees--too few at the fruit trees
    Of the bats—not one darts the skies this summer
    Of the field birds—haying blades shred their nests.

    It’s easy to give in to despair over
    The arrival of snickering swaggering opportunists:
    Ticks with their Lyme disease, raccoons with their rabies
    Poison parsnip with its blistering burn,
    The quick stab of succession
    The slow sink and sizzle of this earth.

    But then I see out on the strip of lawn,
    The mother robin, who in spite of these facts,
    Continues her Sisyphean task of stuffing her beak again and again
    Beyond full with the currants I grow, the earthworms she pulls
    To fly to her ravenous, twittering nestlings—her second or third brood this summer.

    And over there in the near maple, the polygot that has taken up residence.
    I have to laugh at the river of language, of song
    Of oriolefinchblackbirdwrenrobinthrashersparrowbluebirdwoodpecker
    All spilling willy-nilly from the beak of one slim gray bird.
    I imagine it’s talking right to me, saying, No worries--
    I’ve got it covered, all the stories all the memories all the languages
    I’ve got them archived for later
    When I am the only bird left flying.
    And I'll sing them to you then.

    And I laugh again in spite of myself. What else is there to do?

    Okay, July, I’m in—
    I’ll look beyond the plague parsnip to the Black-eyed Susan, the Queen Anne’s lace
    I’ll dance with you in a sky not of bats but of swallows
    I’ll sing this summer’s song with the catbird not the bobolink
    I’ll shake the doldrums from my heart
    Leave my pointless fretting, my fretful pointing
    If only for a moment.
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