I spent an evening last week swatting down mosquitoes and moths. The moths are the vicious sort that will eat holes in fabric between one blink of the eye and another. It has been known for me to put a knitted item down on my chair, and then pick it up two hours later with three moth-holes chewed into it. In my room there is such a selection of moths in incremental stages of growth that I am convinced they are breeding somewhere in the cupboard or behind a bookshelf. The mosquitoes, I know, are breeding in the buckets and pots of stagnant water under my window in the yard below.

At this time of the summer, when the tiny flying and crawling messengers make their way into the house to eat up the last of the season’s succulence (my blood, the summer fruit, a cardigan), the closing hours are near. So near that there are already mushrooms in their colonies among the tree-roots in the wood (find a mention in my previous poem, ‘He could not pause too long‘). The nights are a little colder and only a week ago, we were expiring in the sunshine.

From this height to what feels like the season’s shift (although we may still be in for a second warmth) and during my battle with the flying fiends, I was reminded of a poem I had written about summer’s excess turning to rot. To my surprise I discover that it is two years old, yet it still speaks of current things.

An overdose of summer

Soft to the thumb,
the pear I sliced
was gone.
It was rotten inside.

In a wither of ruffles
the rose-heads have browned
dry in the heat.
They sodden after it’s stormed.

Even the blowflies ferocious
have stopped their wings,
landed their green torpedoes
for the last time.

Something from lunch
churns in my stomach –

the rice, three days old?
the dhal, two days defrosted?
the sliver of cheese, too sweaty?
the coffee, a cup too many?

Now I, too, struggle
to hold down this summer.

25/7/2014

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