Memoirs of a Fleeting Summer · Suzanne Rindell

You say you’re back in America
Writing poetry under neon signs and sleeping
In waffle-house parking lots.

Funny that only now I should remember
that brief English summer –
Its short silk spun days I have not been able to recall but now
I remember. I remember our song of lament:
Together, trapped under a ceiling of gray,
And worse, grey, spelt with an e.
That summer I trudged the steaming streets
(The Irish would call this weather close, you said)
To a job on the tourists’ side of town,
Selling shoes and scarves to ladies
who rode the bus from Godstow,
Kiddlington, or any of those places
where they referred to Oxford as The City.
We sat nearly nude on the too-green back lawn
of your dormitory
Drinking cheap French and watching the floating heads
Of tourists riding down the Cherwell on meandering punts,
Their passing absurdly rhythmic, like a log ride at Disneyland
(It’s a small world after all, you laughed).
It was that summer that the albino deer got loose from Magdalen Deer Park
And I wondered if she had left feeling bad because she knew
She was different (– not aloud, of course,
for you would consider it vanity).
The Old Firehouse was putting on Six Degrees
so we went to a matinee
(How mercilessly we laughed at the
Brits’ version of New Yorkese!).
What a neat idea though – that we are all
six simple steps apart,
A Kandinsky symphony of chaos -- six failing,
faltering, stumbling steps

When the show was over, we emerged
from the dark to find the sky
Split open like a ripe pomegranate,
the spell broken; the cage bars lifted. Suddenly

People filled the streets in shorts and summer dresses
and I, for one
Interminable terrifying second, paused to consider
that it was not the summer
Fleeting before me; it was you, free and unfettered.

The clouds closed again like thick velvet curtains and I
Took your arm as we walked wobbly-ankled over cobblestones --
All the while winding back home.