Once a year the Earth holds a season-long party—more of a ball, really, in honor of the sun. There are barbecues, heaps of fresh produce, ice cream cones and costumes constructed of flowing, featherweight material in blues and whites and yellows—all evidence of summer's infinite joys, among them the sun's warmth. Even the tiniest of creatures seem to partake, at least according to one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems, "The Fingers of the Light": "Gnat / Held up His Cup for Light." There is a bittersweetness to even the headiest days of summer—once we have drunk our fill from our cups of light, we must set them aside. There are other seasons to taste.

If you're reading this in summer, there's a good chance you're reluctant to be reminded of how quickly it passes. Even now it is playing its games with your senses. These are the months when daylight lingers longest, creating the illusion that we have more time than we really do. And so for me summer is for short stories, long poems, novellas, writing with a brief and powerful span, pages I can reach the end of without time disappearing. Like Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market," a poem that is in part about girls held captive by the delights of summer: "Plump unpeck'd cherries, / Melons and raspberries, / Bloom-down-cheek'd peaches." This is fruit more delicious than any human farmer could offer, for it's grown in lands where summer lasts forever. Faced with all this plenty, Laura chants to Lizzie: "We must not look at goblin men, / We must not buy their fruits...." The fruit is poisonous to humans, awakening an impossible longing to exist outside time. But in the end, nothing can change the simple fact that girls grow into women, that summer always ends.


Next Story