Summer has come, and with it the desire to roam, read paperbacks poolside, and soak up the sun. In my family the sun has been worshipped and spurned – my mother tans gorgeously, my father burns to a crisp, skin cancer to prove it. I take after my father, fair and freckly. Come June I wear hats, layers of 70 SPF sunscreen, and the longest tolerable shirts and pants I can find. I look ridiculous next to bikinis and bronzed bodies, and yet the sun still intrigues me. Emily Dickinson studied it, “I’ll tell you how the sun rose, a ribbon at a time…”. Gwendolyn Brooks questioned it, “If sun comes / How shall we greet him?” And John Donne challenged it, “Thou, sun, art half as happy as we.”
I grew up in the desert, the sun scorching every red roof tile for miles. I never owned rain boots or umbrellas. Rainfall was a foreign country. I used to sit on my windowsill and face east, waiting for the sun to tip up over the purple mountains. Come mid-morning we’d move to the backyard like actors on stage: my mom coconut oiled and tanning on a patio recliner, us kids playing Marco Polo in the deep end, eating peaches fresh from the trees, playing tennis chlorine drenched and dripping. I took all that light and vitamin D for granted. Acute light, the yellow of clarified butter. Days and months and years of it, enough for a lifetime.
Wherever this summer takes us, may light find us, as it does in this month’s pieces: a journey through sun and shadow, family relationships and change. Leslie Lords Robbins poem, “This Rain That Grows” is a gem from the archives that relates her daughter’s pregnancy and birth, “pressing / against me like sun in and out of windows.” In Elizabeth Sexton’s essay, “Yellow Clown,” she grapples with her mother’s death, her father’s absence, and ultimately arrives transformed, “in knowing we are all just books freed from the rubble.”
Does this summer find us glad? Homesick? Grateful? These past months having arced all three, I find myself, at last, in a bit of dappled sun. The sky here is bluer than any I’ve ever known and the sun as close as home.
Associate Poetry Editor
Table of Contents:
Poetry: “This Rain That Grows” by Leslie Lords Robbins
Prose: “Yellow Clown” by Elizabeth Sexton