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

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Jun 19, 2024

Don't Miss These Upcoming Activities at Landis!

Our calendar is well stocked with great things to do this year, but we wanted... read more

Jun 19, 2024 | Sam McClary

The Arboretum’s Battle Against Invasive Species

Invasive plants are defined as plants that are not native to an environment that, once... read more

Jun 19, 2024 | Fred Breglia

From the Director’s Desk: Where to See a Big Tree -- Locally! (Part 1)

So you want to see a “Big Tree” but aren’t sure where to start? As... read more

Jun 19, 2024 | Anita Sanchez

A Close Encounter of the Wasp Kind

​​​​​​​​One bright morning last summer, after an hour of pottering in the garden, I decided... read more

Jun 19, 2024 | Erin McKenna Breglia

From the Garden: The Ever Popular, Low Maintenance Iris

Derived from the Greek word for “rainbow“ and a frequent subject of artist Vincent Van... read more

Jun 19, 2024 | Shayne Mitchell

News and Muse from the Bluebird Trail

Nest box monitoring began on March 12 and has continued weekly. I found that the... read more

News Archive