[36] Ode to June, Moon River, Thomas R. Smith

Moon River

In the dream I’m singing “Moon River”
to nursing home residents, monitoring
the subtle responses, the nod, the smile,
the wheelchair toe-tapping, when suddenly
I become aware of other voices,
notice standing among us a crowd
of younger people who, to my surprise
and delight, are joining in on
the song, not half-heartedly in the way
of those cajoled into singing along, but
really giving it their full-throated all,
with closed-eye harmonies and angelic
oohs and ahs, so that I don’t even
think to wonder where they come from or
who they are — maybe our old lost
selves, our “huckleberry friends,” who, for
the residents, are indeed “waiting ’round
the bend.” And I am roughly crooning like
Louis Armstrong, and the voices rising
sweetly all around me, finally falling to
a low, tenderly sustained finish. I say,
“No more,” and everyone understands. “We
can’t top that. That was for the ages.”
I see no disagreement in the old
and young faces, so alike now, together
carried by singing into this richer silence.


Ode to June

Month of most perfect verdancy,
leaves in their greenest hues, unspoiled by time.
Month of the great bird chorales.
Month of the occupied wren house music box.
Month of exquisitely mingled rain and shine.
Month of the first swim, easing into the water
after frozen and cold times.
Month of proliferation of lilies, the tiger,
the day, the stella d’oro each in turn
opening trumpets, skirts, stars.
Month of rampant grass growth, humblest leaves
crazy to assert their superiority to the mower.
Month of vines, tendrils, shoots, suckers
stretching with their hunger to live toward the sun.
Month of endlessly expanding sky, as if
each day were its own Big Bang creating a universe.
Month of Solstice, shortest nights and longest days,
a golden ball balanced on a black stick.
Month of unshakable light.
Month of turtles clambering from the river
for their annual egg-laying along the roadsides.
Month of bicycle rides among cornfield-swell,
woods and hills throbbing under hot hands of the sky.
Month of inventive cloud forms dispensed by
the immense ice cream scoop of heaven.
Month of Earth trembling in the grip of life.
Month of firmament holding Earth in her love-grip.
Month of nights shrugging covers
to the floor in the dark sultry heat.
Month of long twilight keeping us awake
like children unwilling to come in from our play to sleep.

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