The Last Day of Summer

by Jeff Newberry

On the last day of summer, I walk the streets,
the dying breeze in the air carrying salt
from the bay, a stench like money from the mill.
These dark streets cool in the moonlight,
the heat of day fading like a dying star,
tossed aside and forgotten.

                                          Out past 12th street,
I stop at a small bridge over the canal.
Beneath me, the water runs thick and brown,
the moon reflecting back like a god’s eye,
half closed as if asleep. I see my own face
staring back, a boy, 14 years old, with a pudgy
face, round cheeks, eyes like the hollows
of pecan shells, split. My image wavers
in the water, thick as honey.

Who was I then but a child? Was the night mine?
I owned every step I took, tasted the night
air with my tongue and felt astounded
by the freshness, like a fat yellow honeydew.
Above me, the moon rode in the purple
sky as the summer drained from the little town
by the bay. I’d spent another year, walking
beneath the living sky, waiting for the days
to pass, and hoping that I could one day
ride the breeze like the salt and become
someone else’s memory in another place.

A native of the Florida Gulf Coast, JEFF NEWBERRY is the author of Brackish (Aldrich Press, 2012) and A Visible Sign (Finishing Line 2008). He is the co-editor (with Brent House) of The Gulf Stream: Poems of the Gulf Coast (Snake Nation Press, forthcoming). Newberry’s writing has appeared in a variety of print and online journals, including Anti-, The Florida Review, The Cortland Review, Chattahoochee Review, New South, Memorious, Hobble Creek Review, Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art, Sweet: A Literary Confection and Waccamaw: A Journal of Contemporary Literature, as well as in the online anthology Best of the Net 2008.