It’s Summer in the City
The thready fingers of heat are already rising from the concrete soul of the city. Another vapid, sullen, summer morning awakens. Dawn brings its dreary, dull, oppressive heat to another struggling newborn day.
It is already too hot to move and too muggy to breathe. I look at the tired trees through a dirty, streaked steamy window – they look staggered and sick. Their leaves are dirty and dull – old tired trees painted a dingy dusty green.
I can remember how they sparkled in the cool air of mid-April, and how their shadows stretched long and far in the decreasing slant of an amicable and warm spring sun. In spring the nighttime came quickly and without a even a modicum of twilight. The sky was blue and then it was black and the nocturnal things scurried quickly to find refuge from the cold, winter-like nights of spring.
Now the days are long and the sunlight has no slant. It burns straight down. Twilight is long and leaves living things yearning for the cool of the night that seems never to come. The sun pierces the dense shade; once-verdant meadows are brown and withered and parched. The once lush green valleys of early summer are smeared with death. They now lie cowering- burnt and lifeless. The field grass looks like rough gritty sand scattered randomly by hot acrid winds on a hellish, unearthly desert. Searing winds swirl past the stunted, lifeless growing things. The sun relentless, drives them nearer and nearer to death. One good rain and the valley would burst forth with life anew, but no rain is coming anytime soon – even that hope has dried up.
It’s summer in the city.
The world looks weary and worn out – the sweat drips and drips in drops and drops; my spirit sinks and droops in the unrelenting, undulating heat; I find no promise in the swarming summer heat. I can find no respite from its searing soul. I am mired in it. I am surrounded by it. There seems to be no escape. I feel the life being drained from me and dripping on the ground. Dripping drops of sweat – dripping drops of me falling on the scorched, sallow ground around me. Concrete and asphalt everywhere. All hot. All simmering. All almost melting.
Behind my house there is a pretty, wooded lane – it leads to a deep and dense forest. In the forest are the rotting remains of an old mill that once helped feed a small village.
The small village which later grew into a town, and then the town grew into the city – a city that was upon green and growing things. Its concrete structures and asphalt roads sucked the life from them; each dusty pounding day squeezed the breath from them. The green things lie forgotten under the boiling, bustling city streets. The city sprawls casually, creeping over the things it killed.
I need to find something alive and growing. Sweating and breathing heavily, I open my back door and slam it behind me. As I slam the door of my house, I realize it is also the door of my life. I slam it shut so hard it shakes the windows in the kitchen and makes a sound like firecracker exploding. I walk slowly toward the wooded lane, lined now with barely-living trees; they sag like groveling beggars, gasping in the oppressive summer heat.
I walk slowly and breathe hard, the air is too dense and sodden with moisture. It engulfs me in sticky heat and clings to me. I am sweaty and thirsty. I yearn for the darkness and coolness of nighttime peace, as I shuffle along alone in the bright, hazy glare of the surreal seething yellow summer sun.
The shaded millpond, cool, blue and pure, awaits me like death’s sweet silence. In the moving shadows its surface barely ripples as the stagnant and slight rustle of breeze gently kisses it. The hazy searing sun devours any breath of air that dares to move around beneath it, squelching any nascent wind before its birth. Even the stagnant whispered breeze has been stilled. Even here, I can smell the odor of the dead things of the city: a foul, profane and unforgiving stench.
It’s so hot. Sweat is running down into my eyes; it burns and blinds me. Amid the foul stench wafting over the glade from the city, I can barely smell the coolness of the water of the millpond. I need its soft, liquid caress. I stumble toward it heaving, squinting and loping along the edges of the drying pines that line the edge of the limp and nearly lifeless forest.
I see the outline of the old mill. I see the old weathered, partially-rotted, wooden waterwheel. Once it turned the grindstone that crushed the wheat into fine white powder. Now it turns for nothing and for no one; its rotting skeleton is pocked with gray and brown. It stands parched and forlorn and unforgiven. It turns reluctantly, hard and wet in the hot yellow glare of the burning morning sun.
I know I am close the serenity of the cool, transparent, blue waters of the millpond. I can feel its coldness drawing my sweaty body to it. I shiver in the heat anticipating the silence anticipating the deep blue chill which awaits. I want it to swallow me whole and hold me forever. I want to languish in its cold clarity. I want it to engulf me and pull me into its depths. Devoid of any living thing, the oxygen-starved pond holds only death in the depths of its eternal blue beauty.
Staggering to the edge, I feel icy fingers trembling, wrapping tightly and tenderly around my burning flesh. I feel soft, cold liquid hands embracing me with a welcoming tender touch. The allure is irresistible and my desire to surrender to it uncontrollable. An icy splash and I can feel its cold compassionate lips sweetly sucking me deep into its chilly and clear liquid soul. The sun disappears in a shimmering haze. I watch dreamily as it jiggles high over the surface, now just a faint and inconsequential blur.
I feel myself surrendering completely, dissolving into the blissful blue peace. I float weightless and alone; and whatever I was, whoever I was, now frozen forever in the eternally cool embrace of a soft sweet silent serenity.