gilford beach swingset
Last Summer
by Kelley White

I remember last summer but I can’t remember March
(March? was there ever a March?
Or May? or April?)
More important, was there ever last summer?
And will there ever be this summer?
I don’t know, somehow I doubt it.
(I know there’s now, or I dream there’s now,
Anyway it seems there’s now)

Last summer was too perfect, full of long days of lying in the sun
in an old army shirt
and swimming for miles
and frappes and poker and bundling under the picnic table when it
and feeling skinny, absolutely skinny, next to everyoneelse
and playing frisbee and touch-tackle football
and I wasn’t the odd one, not me
and we didn’t go drinking and smoke pot (not me, but it’s there, and
This summer)
and giggle and laugh
and hide in the woods and catch poison ivy and who knows what else
and sit on the beach and read palms and tell fortunes
and it never mattered who flirted with who
and no one really cared much either way
and sit on the swings and sing drunkenly (we never were drunk, not me
I never was, but
This summer)
and catch pine needles in your feet
and drink coke, and tab and lemonade and fill beer bottles with
and laugh and throw pizza at the walls and watch it run down
and giggle and giggle and giggle and gulp
and pull your hat down over your eyes and laugh
and giggle at the running red stains that look like blood (they never
were, but
This summer. . . )

PHOTO: Gilford Beach, Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I found a group of poems typed up on onionskin and bound with construction paper and yarn in a box in the attic when I moved out of my big old house. This was one of them. I wrote them when I was fourteen. I spent as much time as possible at my town’s beach, a really wonderful long stretch on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. My children learned to swim there too.


Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural
 New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals, including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.