Summer deepens and a root reaches for receding
water with a sense of waking long afterward
long after the main event whatever it was
has faded out like the sounds of a procession
like April like the age of dew like the beginning
now the dry grass drying keeps making the sounds of rain
to hollow air while the wheat whitens in the cracked fields
and they keep taking the cows farther up into the woods
to dwindling pools under the oaks and even there
the brown leaves are closing their thin hands and falling
and out on the naked barrens where the light shakes
in a fever without a surface and the parched shriek
of the cicadas climbs with the sun the bats
cling to themselves in crevices out of the light
and under stone roofs those who live watching the grapes
like foxes stare out over the plowed white stones
and see in all the hueless blaze of the day nothing
but rows of withered arms holding up the green grapes
— W.S. Merwin, from The Vixen
To browse through our archive of previously posted Poems of the Week, click here.
To support the preservation of W.S. Merwin’s legacy and our efforts to bring his ideas, works, and values into the community, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to The Merwin Conservancy.
Photo “Hot and Dry Summer Months” by Roberto Verzo is used under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0), and can be found on Flickr here.