…summer’s lease hath all too short a date

New York

On the summer solstice in 1982, we moved from D.C. to Brooklyn, on the summer solstice in 1991, from New Jersey to Atlanta, and on the summer solstice in 2003, from Atlanta to Manhattan. This solstice, I plan to stand still (or sit somewhere cool if possible) and read, beginning with Mary Ruefle’s “Someone Reading a Book is a Sign of Order in the World”

and continuing with…

A something in a summer’s day,

As sIow her flambeaux burn away,

Which solemnizes me.


A something in a summer’s noon, —

An azure depth, a wordless tune,

Transcending ecstasy.


And still within a summer’s night

A something so transporting bright,

I clap my hands to see;


Then veil my too inspecting face,

Lest such a subtle, shimmering grace

Flutter too far for me.


The wizard-fingers never rest,

The purple brook within the breast

Still chafes its narrow bed;


Still rears the East her amber flag,

Guides still the sun along the crag

His caravan of red,


Like flowers that heard the tale of dews,

But never deemed the dripping prize

Awaited their low brows;


Or bees, that thought the summer’s name

Some rumor of delirium

No summer could for them;


Or Arctic creature, dimly stirred

By tropic hint, — some travelled bird

Imported to the wood;


Or wind’s bright signal to the ear,

Making that homely and severe,

Contented, known, before


The heaven unexpected came,

To lives that thought their worshipping

A too presumptuous psalm.


Emily Dickinson


A few excellent reads from the last three weeks teaching at New School’s Summer Writers Colony.

Lucette Lagnado. The Arrogant Years: One Girl’s Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn

Tracy K. Smith. Life on Mars.

Kevin Young. The Grey Album

And things to come from the students in my nonfiction writing workshop… Thanks for a terrific three weeks, folks.


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