Turning Point

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August

The cicadas’ rasp signals the beginning of the end, long before the grass yellows and the county fair rolls in and out of town. The moon and stars loom brighter as the days quicken. The fields grow gold and ripe.

Weeds have overgrown the garden that blossomed fresh and fragrant in early summer rains. Now I wake up and the world smells wet and too sweet. The bed sheets peel from my clammy skin, the wood floors are sticky beneath my bare feet, and the air is heavy inside my chest. Space shimmers above the pavement. Did I hallucinate chipping ice off the sidewalk? Snowflakes are a strange dream. Christmas sounds like a fairy tale. Hot prairie gusts give welcome relief from the press of moisture on every side. Thunderstorms break and rumble and fade, and then the buzzing symphony of insects resumes.

No more goslings trail along in rows, neither yet do their V formations point south. Swallowtails and Monarchs are born out of their chrysalises, delicate membranes drying in the morning breeze. Bees hover over the sedum, and yellow wildflowers bedeck the ditches. Fireflies glow at dusk.

Last-ditch vacations to the mountains, vineyard weddings, and fishing trips prolong our eschatology. Fresh cut grass and the smoky scent of outdoor grilling lingers. Haymaking has passed its prime. The swarms at beaches and swimming pools have mellowed, as the cadence of school days approaches. I look for a turning point, and one day find a single scarlet sumac leaf among the green.

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