Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Summer (the season) (07/09/09)
TITLE: Music of Two Summers
By Allen Stark
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My thoughts flew away through the opening in a cloud,
and for awhile I sat on a hilltop ploughed high
drinking in the stillness,
waiting to hear the stretching
of a sunflower.
It was though an orchestra began to play melodies and
harmonies I had memorized
of summertimes past.
It was a rhapsody of being alive,
a waltz of energy and joy,
a ballad of first loves,
a song of all living things
singing in unison.
Summer played a patter song of rain on windowpanes,
an xylophone solo on tin-roofed structures,
and a cymbal-crash of lightning
began you counting the seconds away
from the timpani roll of thunder.
And through the window you could see the drops
on the walks hopping up and down
as their feet touched the hot cement.
Summer was also the time of stillness,
precisely measured by meticulous crickets,
by the click-clacking of a stick
on a picket fence,
by kerplunks in water from lobbed stones,
and the whirr and hum of electric fans.
In summertime the Midnight Special sang the blues,
modulating down to a minor key
as it pierced the distance.
Summer was the lazy chimes of ice cream trucks,
And the monotoned cry of a street peddler.
Summer's music was the baroque toccata
of hand-operated lawn mowers,
the popping of backyard wood barbecues,
the yelping of kids toasting marshmallows
for the first time.
It was the crackle of cards being shuffled
on a screened porch,
while ice tinkled in glasses of pink lemonade.
The old summer music was punctuated with
the yells of children playing ball in the streets,
the click of croquet balls colliding,
and the slap, slap of jump rope against the sidewalk.
It was the sudden burst of "It!"
and "Not it!"
of counting by fives to five hundred,
of "Here I come, ready or not!"
and a course of "Safe!"
The evening song rivaled a Brahm's lullaby,
with the swoosh-slap, swoosh-slap
of the lawn sprinkler,
with the magic flute some talented kid
made out of a blade of grass,
with a solo bumblebee helicoptering overhead,
and with the light drumbeat of moth wings.
It was an almost silent song, as fireflies began
to freckle the night,
with only a brief crescendo of "Got 'im!"
when a young boy caught one in an old Ball jar.
That was the music of past summers.
It was the music of a neighborhood.
Today's music is that of a planet.
It is echoed around the world by Telstar and satellite.
It has the flavor of all tunes and languages.
It has a dissonance of war, poverty, greed, and
the harmony of outer space and undersea.
The music has a restless beat.
Its melody is motion:
jets screaming, gears shifting, motor thunder;
the manic talk of disc jockeys running a race
with hard rock being pushed beyond
the threshold of pain.
Those who have heard the music of the two summers
should realize that each is a record
of its own warm and tender season,
with its own growing and stretching
for the sun.
"I am! I am!
And I'm glad I am!"
is the song of all summers,
and is the magical music
in the rhapsody of being alive;
the waltz of energy and joy;
the ballad of first loves,
and the song of all living things
singing in unison.
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