This June seemed particularly long. The days were marked by a solid blue, cloudless sky, a heat that bordered on suffocating. And then there was the sun whose light seemed to catch every reflective surface, burning my eyes. There was that familiar buzz of insects that builds in intensity with the sun’s mid-afternoon heat. During those long hot days, I thought often: June is the month that Tucsonans must live through in order to get to live here in January. This is the pleasure and the pain of living in the desert; other places have hard winters, we have hard summers. In June, all I knew was the monotony of the heat.
In poetry, we might call this repetition. Each June day had the trappings of a repeated line of a poem—the line builds, and appears again in the poem exactly as it appeared earlier. In this way, a repeated line behaves like touchstone in a poem, something the reader can return to for clarity, for grounding, for reassurance.
I like repetition. I like the rhythm that can build with each repeat, the momentum of this leading the reader to deeper understanding.
Take, for example, what Edward Hirsch says about repetition in A Poet’s Glossary: “Repetition can be one of the most intoxicating features of poetry. It creates expectations, which can be fulfilled or frustrated. It can create a sense of boredom and complacency, but it can also incite enchantment and inspire bliss.”
This is how I make sense of the summers here: through the poetic tool of repetition. June is the frustrating, bored, repeated line. July—and the monsoons—are the intoxicating, enchanting, blissfull repeated lines.
Spend a summer here and one will know the heavy-handed, repetitive quality to early summer (well, May and June. Everywhere else, that’s late spring). But late summer—July and August—with its possibility of rain, of that different sky, builds more like an incantation.
It is repetition with a difference—a day just as long, just as hot, but with a spectacular, long-awaited monsoon storm at the end.
Edward Hirsch continues: “The incantatory magic of poetry—think of spells and chants, of children’s rhymes and lullabies—has something to do with recurrence, with things coming back to us in time, sometimes in the same way, sometimes differently.”
Seasons of the year always have the quality of recurrence, but the summer season—as it builds to the monsoon—always reveals itself to be wholly poetic, something worthy of writing about, something to come back to in time.
Laura Maher is the author of the chapbook, Sleep Water (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in Crazyhorse, Moonsick Magazine, The Collagist, New Ohio Review, and Third Coast. She lives, works, and writes in Tucson, Arizona. She can be found online at lauramaher.com.Laura Maher is the author of the chapbook, Sleep Water (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in Crazyhorse, Moonsick Magazine, The Collagist, New Ohio Review, and Third Coast. She lives, works, and writes in Tucson, Arizona. She can be found online at lauramaher.com.