Summer Soum

Summertime in the village.

Walking through

The dust-coated city

With cracked road,

The only road

With paved lanes,

But no lines

Down its center,

I salute the eternal

Blue sky so I

Might shade

My brow.

The dirt, once

Brown or mahogany

In texture, now

A bitter a lifeless

Color, cracks

Underfoot as if

You were walking

Upon brittle glass.

No trees line

Any avenue or

Lane; Only

Old power lines

Strewn on brittle,

Rotted posts,

Too baked to make

Any humming.

I open the gate door,

Rust fused to lock,

Paint incinerated

From no particular

Lack of upkeep,

And step inside

My small, patchy yard

With the laundry line

Held up with one

Wooden post and

A rusted thresher.

I step onto the foyer,

My mother greeting me,

Asking me about my

Afternoon, washing

Clothes in the washing

Machine I was not

Aware we had,

I seek refuge in

The blinding shade.

Inside the family is quiet,

Barely audible over

My voiceless replies.

No one moves,

The shades are drawn,

Linoleum sheets nailed

To wooden floors,

Which smell of hot

Water and lye, shift lightly


I sit in a reclined chair

Staring at ornate rugs

Pinned to chalky walls

For decoration

As I take a deep


Feeling the heat

From my body


With the heat

Of the cooking sky.

Composed 06/17/2012

Author’s note: It dropped to -20 F today in my city. The long summer days seem so distant now. I’m more of a warm weather creature, so the summer time has fond memories for me. I tried to capture the environment of my village as best I could with this poem. I try not to romanticize places I’ve been. I do try to convey the fondness I have for places, despite their imperfections. A difficult skill to master, indeed.

Also, soum (сум) literally translates to arrow. It’s a relic of an old classification system for villages from back in the day. The word just kind of stuck, I suppose.

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