The Pond in Summertime

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The Pond in Summertime

by Daniel Anderson
Southern Cultures, Vol. 8, No. 2: Summer 2002

"She is AM radio. Chevrolet. The hot blacktop outside the Dairy Freeze."

Gold pollen floated on the air,

And through a sunlit galaxy of flies

I watched a silver, glinting muscle rise,

Thrash once, then wriggle quickly down.

I wouldn’t swim because I was afraid

Of the snapping turtle and the sly snake.

No matter if they were not there,

The mind would always see them there.

I didn’t watch the bullfrog leap

But I heard the horrible splash;

I saw the rip in the cool cud

Where he ignited from his sleep

Then, fat and flaccid, drifted back

Into the mysterious moss and mud.

There was a ruined dock, a tire swing.

The burgundy complexion of the pond

Had mostly blistered up in green.

My cousin Mary peeled her sandals off,

Stripped down to her blue bathing suit,

And dove into that amniotic deep.

When she came slogging out, her legs

And arms were crazed with muddy rivulets;

Her suit was splotched with dabs of olive foam.

I was eleven, maybe twelve.

Today a great, green lather works across

The pond. A different pond. And I think yes,

The cattails look like riding crops.

And I think yes, the lush lily pads.

The armored stalks of thistle. Breaching bass.

And I think Mary Satterfield,

Fleet swallows skim along the pond.

They prick the marbled water with their beaks.

They flitter madly off. They prick again.

That’s right, I think, her daughter too.

Both dead some twenty years by Mary’s hand.

And if I cannot quite remember her

Today, she’s all these things at once: A blur

Of sun. The cobalt blue of dragonflies.

She is a building, purple thunderhead

Of fear. A fraying, white electric thread

Of lightning on the coming cloud.

(We sprinted to the car in the slapping rain.)

She is the lexicon of August trees.

She is AM radio. Chevrolet.

The hot blacktop outside the Dairy Freeze.