Cataloging Summer

Johnny Nelson

She’s summer,

pouring from her pores:


sunscreen applied beachside, shoulders’ surrender beneath deliberate hands;

the mango with chile and lime that you pay two for, or three for more,

and your nose runs as you remember

something you never learned with every taste;

the summer storm that wraps the world before it’s seen;

the modest, passive silence of the season;

the bonfires that scent your hair and clothes,

so when you’re home and have showered, the burnt planks

pried loose from pallets the city forbade you to use,

still char your skin,

and what remains with you can’t be rinsed off;

the shucking of oysters’ hearts, wretched with spoons,

sullen and scarred with overuse,

wielded by uncles whose shirtless guts are saddled by the very belts lost in them,

who know the totality of effort makes the slight pleasure of each

equal to the enumeration of the whole;

the pupil of the eye at the core of the Ferris wheel, watching young couples

board and depart through the haze of neon tube-lights

and all that’s gone between – spilt popcorn and soda indicative

of fingertips and thighs in need of something more

than what’s offered by a quarter’s worth a ride;

a just-rinsed berry, still wet, no less itself;

the sweat that charges your spine;

the hollow caress of watermelon on taste buds worn raw.


She scorches my skin, where I’m always young,

where moment to moment passes without care.

She’s the summer I feel in my guts:


a collection of rainbows all pinned to a board;

a rollercoaster ride you can always afford.


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