How to Not Write After Supper in the Summer1
June 22, 2022 by The Citron Review
by Nicholas Howard
You’re in the garden weeding, watering, encouraging.
A storm earlier broke the humidity with a flash of rain and thunder and no more than five lightning bolts. The air is settling into a texture soft and inviting.
The squash plant sprawls far beyond her intended plot. Her flowers are folded but unfurl each morning in a dew-dipped glisten.
The pepper plants display their stocky sprouts. They have yet to lengthen into their shape. Give them ten days or so.
Turn to the compost and turn it over. Work with not against its consistency somewhere between mud and soil. Stir in any tomatoes that have prematurely dropped off the vine and plopped onto the dirt. Add any grass clippings hibernating and fading in the mower’s bag.
Step up onto the deck. Notice the air now fully cool and open. A breeze passes, seeming to touch all the leaves woven into the co-authored canopy. They all come in on queue. No branch sits silent.
Clouds, long and thin, hover above. Perhaps they are lingering. Perhaps they are arriving. All the same, you notice together the light growing into its gold.
Sit down in a chair faded but sturdy. Find your right ankle instinctively rise into its familiar spot atop your left knee. Glance up and welcome the role of quiet and listening.
Within minutes, allow your right ankle to slide down so as to rest your leg at a 45° angle. Perfect position to balance a notebook buried in a backpack still in the house.
Another breeze passes, carrying the end to a poem that also remains buried in the house. Third scrap of paper down from the top of a stack clinging to a corner of your desk. A draft with more scribbles and scratch outs than complete stanzas.
Out of sight in backyards not directly adjacent, two dogs bark.
Their back and forth cannot drown out the chorus of rustles so perfectly pitched that no human hand could ever so precisely place the leaves or gage the wind speed to inspire such harmony.
You’re caught between the appeal of doing nothing and the mandate of making use of longer days.
Still you do not stir but instead gaze out at the grass.
A bug buzzes just above, nibbling on the microscopic. A squirrel races up a tree’s trunk with twigs in his teeth to tend to his nest in a crevice. A bird calls out with what translates as either “good night” or the morning’s chores.
Accept lines that arrive and seem to land in your lap. Moments of being in scene and quick flourishes of sensory language. They neatly pile up.
Pause and welcome your eyes to close. Remain silent for one long extended breeze that ends with a tinge of chill. Open again and cast one more look out at the garden before heading in.
Reach for the screen door and listen for its cadence in closing. It almost matches your whispered “thank you.”
Nicholas Howard is a writer living in Southeastern Massachusetts. He is an English Teacher who aims to say, “could you kindly please” at least twenty-five times a day. His work has appeared in Wild Roof Journal and The Normal School. When not reading or writing, he can usually be found tuning into a baseball game, working in his garden, or walking the beach. A good day involves all three. He dabbles in the art of Twitter @Nick1845Howard
I read this after doing my tour of the peppers, stalking the tomatoes, and weeding. A cool breeze blew, humidity broken by last night’s storms. Dog at my feet. The only difference? Morning, coffee, and reading were my procrastination tools. Thanks for showing me that I can even write about not writing!