Midsummer’s Eve

Hills outside your sleeping town will dance again,
hum their insect song and you’ll sing along, skip
over the low places above the amulets, the picks
and spear-tips of people whose tangled bones
disappeared a thousand years ago,

you’ll risk your innocence, give it up
to magic, to soles pressing the perfume
of woodruff, nettle, bilberry and coltsfoot,
step by dancing step, until you are intoxicated
by your own swaying,

swinging to plucked catgut and blown serpent,
heart filled by way of your ears and the nose
of boys’ sweat-leather, sky electric
and everything dancing, nothing stumbling,
trees rocking at the edge of your eyes,

your eyes catching another’s eyes, his lips
singing now, calling to you, as the cuckoo solo
sounds a warning about the brevity of summer,
about the certainty of procreation, everything
young and bursting, you know you will accept

life’s offer, submit to the spell, keep faith
in what is now, you bow to the bowing of viols,
the smell of crushed grass, you whirl until his hand
whips into yours and there is no other thought,
no thought at all.



Click here to read Lillo Way on the origin of the poem.

Image: photo by Dakota Roos on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Lillo Way:
My intention was to have the form of this poem follow its narrative propulsion, hence the one long, lyrical sentence. The poem depicts the revels of a Midsummer’s Eve as they play out—as the excitement heightens, and finally culminates in an ecstatic choosing to not make a choice about one’s future. In what era is the poem set? Let’s just say I’d been reading and rereading one of my favorite novelists, Thomas Hardy.

Lillo Way
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