Season of Tourists

by Susan Laughter Meyers

Charleston, SC

                                             Say it’s October,
after the summer of the bullfrog.
The leaves will soon free-fall into the season
of loss, when you will lie there, night after night,
remembering the steady drumming
even though the sound is gone.

In the pond was a statue of bronze—
or was it stone?—now gone.
Not so, the wind sweeping across stone.
Summer, though short,
                                             read like a slow refrain,
off-key like the stutter of a slow refrain.
The bullfrog, though only one—
and only until July—
thrummed the depths with a low song
you couldn’t hum. You keep looking,
listening for the missing. Or was summer
just a rehearsal for shadows?

Wing beats and apologies.
You thought at least one dream
would teach you to fly.
                                             The need, that strong.
Like the desire for home. Like the desire
for elsewhere. Unlike the irritable conviction
of the woman ahead of you in line today:

I don’t want pretty stamps, she said.
I don’t want pretty stamps.
The Post Office shouldn’t be in the business
of selling pretty stamps.
                                             Was her intent to send out
into the world some part of herself unadorned,
to peel away her own affection?

                                                                In a better mood
are the two men and the woman battling
wind at the Battery. No doubt they’re glad
for the miles between them and home,
where there’s more wind pending.
It’s their season.
                                  What they’ve missed,
a whole summer, bullfrog to stone,
you can’t tell them. There’s no sign of it,
and no sign they’d want to know.
                                             You can hear their glee
in the laughing gulls they’re reaching to feed,
see it on their faces,
their tilted heads and fly-away hair.

SUSAN LAUGHTER MEYERS is the author of Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press), winner of the inaugural SC Poetry Book Prize, the SIBA Book Award for Poetry, and the Brockman-Campbell Book Award. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, as well as Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” column. A long-time writing instructor, Meyers lives with her husband in the rural community of Givhans, SC.