CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
Summer Letters
Joshua Harmon


the way memory and summer
reveal their terrible affinities
while speaking separate dialects

—Michael Davidson
“Summer Letters”


                1.

shored up inside still
they speak liturgies over
this valley’s grid

and does summer remain
in a sort of air
or a morning

it is a fact
limited views on days like these
pursuing burnt earth

and when he returned
a lampglow
fluttered papers

the house leaned and he
did not imagine summer
hills fading into white lines



                2.

returning we burned ourselves
and in our books burned

star fine ash sketches
paper imprints

his breath the collage of speech
his breaks culled never
his hands left marks all over this town

perception returns
on returning forgets
endures fathoms years
fashions speech’s garb

skin masks pale stars



                3.

its name begins at the lake
regrets the insides of clouds
and gulls so far inland

windows open only partway
color has already been written
and what won’t resolve

reminders in asphalt
loom
shouldered into simply describing
twenty years ago
twenty minutes from now
which is entangled

early morning
word spreads



                4.

unhitched
dust settles

water assumes the shape of rocks
the haze and a hand on a page
a heron stands in the creek

by night they wait for another
mapping a route from home
scant furtive fires

nothing but in care of you
his arms in this sad knot
scans hems trees

hinge upon a past upon
an unseen gift a cloud
suspended behind a chimney

and to speak a lantern apart
they followed traces
in the attraction of habit



                5.

everything has slowed
climbed steps to the door
and hid behind it
is it possible to turn
another disappears all
of the sky is a ruse is a
letter is a day grown over

seeks emphasis in calendars
many hours spoke

vows ignite the memory
prove intention how it
presumes

the recurring sun and patch
of hills the voice from corners
thorns successive designs
weather became important
creased lines bleed
dispatches
to think of drift

blackly treed vein
crevices

dialogues drown
a nest
unutterable



                6.

to hedge’s green layers
we turned a twig
roots of my wool-gathering

speaks to the beginning
or two years back
the pulse in winds
dwells atop silent house
Oneonta countrymen
roots of the beginning
of dusty lines awakened
the leaves’ silver ends

remembered through memory
how often the grass bent
and boards cracked

and when he returned
returning forgot

paled into another



                                    7.

shapes  impressed  upon  pillows   by  mourning  lost
words  a   waking   promise  spreads   and   now  all
ceremonies have ended curled his wings grew from a
knee  from  cock wilson  the historic  ward  numbers
cadences concealed absence he  begged a copse hid
such  messages an  idea  of  age gathers  any  missing
story so well hewed we hunted water and leaves and
stones  three creeks silty  walked  another  riverbank
once our vocabularies now halved



                                    8.

a  warning  of moon  in  daylight  on  summer’s  quiet
paths  yet waning  to cold  air  she  revealed  hitherto
abandoned   structures  clove  pendant  spoken  with
burnt  tongue  under  fog  calls  each  departed  letter
and  the  letters   spelled  a  name  in  these  hills  and
words passed  between  two  houses  a mile  apart a
mark  crosses   and  begins   in  each   letter  another
writes



                                    9.

water parts two roads to words white circle

candles burned under hills the length of this country
driven from the letter of the intent to what’s left of a
pattern pressed between leaves

lost light to away maybe we forgot he said push mist
the road blink left rose a summer ending in rain
Dutch river settlements

terrel unfold ways begin dark a seacoast faints on
falling this press acre of ground we moved through
return paths feet cut down



                                    10.

into sight abandons senses voice sway. the hill once
painted  fades and  eyelashes occur  as dusk.  fields
grown over unseen a hollow fills. the lake dirt

in afterthought begins a sentence
             envelopes drifted tables

and letters accumulate unsent. two voices
      events events the mornings begin

damp grass fenced skin peeling
I unburying all year