New England Review - - Luke Brekke - Luke Brekke

June was sick with it, lus­cious hills green over the wa­ter, the tril­lium and blue bead lilies lost in a wood. You should have seen it. The wind kept cry­ing, kept shak­ing the leaves that spread and dark­ened to hide their branches, and the streams ran. Chil­dren ran out from school, from the pun­gent halls and the quiet that June re­fused, that June sent pack­ing, that was forced to gather its pri­vate coat to make room for song or in­ti­mate whis­pers on top of the grass. Ferns un­coiled in cool hours, the mush­rooms pressed spoon­fuls of earth up on their thumbs. We couldn’t find you. The thrushes, the jun­cos, the war­blers made habi­tat in our eaves and with our hair and by the wa­ter I found bro­ken eggs, stained and opened like shirts, their con­tents eaten or gone in flight, like an indigo bunt­ing that trav­els in dark­ness, led by stars, its plumage the color of shadow or sky as it makes its de­par­ture. The ramps grew wild and forced their spice into their root. We ate them off the hill. And were stung by net­tles. And stung by bees. And were scratched by green thorn and this­tle. And in the heat wave at night, we turned in car­nal sheets, not sleep­ing, June seep­ing into the ma­te­rial den­si­ties of the bed and the sleep­less hours draw­ing out. And June stretch­ing the days like helium bal­loons float­ing them off, one blue af­ter another, un­til we couldn’t see them, like swim­mers gone un­der a green lake, naked and deep. June was a small ex­plo­sion in the ker­nel of a hazel­nut, was rosy petals lit like can­dles across the rhodo­den­dron, was il­lit­er­ate so I read to it ev­ery night, the sto­ries it liked best, brave maid­ens turned to deer, reach­ing ap­ples from the trees with slen­der necks while the moon glowed and meadow watched,

while the owl flapped a deadly wing and the cities burned and the sanc­tions lifted, and you re­moved your­self from such pro­fu­sion with a sin­gle act, a skinny rope, and the next rain didn’t come, and night’s edge bled a lit­tle quicker into day and the air changed, got thicker, and June was gone and then July, whole sea­sons and the next ones come darker, on their heels, with fresh del­i­ca­cies and pain.

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