“Grandmother Remembers a Distant Summer” by James Engelhardt

         "Grandmother Remembers a Distant Summer"

Richard shipped the oars and we drifted,
the water baubled and sharp in late afternoon.
The far shore breathed a shadow
that rang like a cool bell across the lake.

What age was I? I wore white, which I always favored
when I was out with boys I fancied, and a ribbon 
as green as thought, a blade of grass 
to slice lines in the clear water.

Or was Dennis at the oars that day?
I remember my hat, the sun that stirred the surface 
as strongly as wind in from the coast, but we 
had wanted a day of quiet, not a struggle 
against tide and currents. 

But how old was I, really?
I was ancient already, I think. Why not?
Love and chardonnay like rings in a tree trunk.
Yes, I was as ancient as the sandhill crane
sent by some summer goddess to arrow  
toward evening, a dry field, a dance. 

I remember that day. I have a photo
taken from an impossible angle, so someone
was with me that day. They caught the light, 
the fractured surface of the lake, and I remember 
wanting something. Always. And I was that age. 
I can recall it now. Yes, I was exactly that age. 

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