Summer Nights

By Fred Lape

Fred Lape’s poems are often root­ed in his child­hood expe­ri­ences at Oak Nose Farm, the site of the present-day Lan­dis Arbore­tum. They often jux­ta­pose the domes­tic and the cos­mic, one reflect­ed in the oth­er. This poem, Sum­mer Nights,” ends with an exhil­a­rat­ing sense of lib­er­a­tion – for the fire­fly, for the human fam­i­ly, and for the human race.

Most pleas­ant of all were the nights of sum­mer,
cool after the day’s work like water to a hot throat.
The man and the woman sat on the porch in the dusk.
The man smoked, the woman rocked, her chair creaked,
she sang soft­ly Way down upon the Swa­nee Riv­er.”
In the swale below, the light­ning bugs played like stars
gone mad. The boy sat on the porch steps and watched,
or maybe he caught one from the yard, caught it
and put it under a tum­bler on the porch floor
to light a world of its own there by itself,
a glass world with two grass straws for con­ti­nents.
The man always said, You’d bet­ter let it out now.
Nothing’s glad when it’s shut in for long.
How’d you like to be cooped in a house tonight?”
He raised the tum­bler, the bug flew upward,
a point in the dark, its lantern glowed and dulled.
See, it’s pret­ti­er in the air,” the woman said.
The night wind rus­tled the maples by the house,
and over­head the great suns marched through space,
the light of mil­lions of past years came down
and shone on the man and the woman and the boy
rest­ing after a day’s work.

– Fred Lape

Summer 2023

Volume 41 , Number 2

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