The Coiling, Lurching Bonfire

Summer is finally in full swing in New York City – the days are very long, the subways are very warm, and it’s so humid you can feel the moisture settle on your skin when you go outside. (I’ve been seeing fireflies in the parks, too, at night.)

So a little summer poem seems in order, right?

Summer at North Farm
By Stephen Kuusisto

Finnish rural life, ca. 1910

Fires, always fires after midnight,
the sun depending in the purple birches
and gleaming like a copper kettle.
By the solstice they’d burned everything,
the bad-luck sleigh, a twisted rocker,
things “possessed” and not-quite-right.
The bonfire coils and lurches,
big as a house, and then it settles.
The dancers come, dressed like rainbows
(if rainbows could be spun),
and linking hands they turn
to the melancholy fiddles.
A red bird spreads its wings now
and in the darker days to come.


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