Ode to Summer

By Marilyn Zuckerman

Rockport MA

Rockport, MA 1996

“…Supper’s ready, everybody come on in
Taste a little of the summer…”
—Greg Brown

This summer becomes all the summers,
a childhood garden
green wooden table and bench
lattice canopy arching overhead,
hung with honeysuckle,
wild flowers tipping in the breeze,
and the sea
this slow green surge slipping like silk
past the rock ledge below,
this calm that ignores
the throng on Bearskin Neck
shouldering each other
off the sidewalk,
moviemakers, who came
for a few weeks
bringing down rain
where there was no rain,
turning night into day,
lighting bonfires along the beaches
even though it was not the Fourth of July,
standing on balconies with cell phones
clasped to their ears
shouting across the summer night
trying to be heard in Malibu
or Santa Monica.

I lean over the rail,
watch children run into the water,
foam frothing around their toes,
scuba divers rising like sea monsters
from the waves,
sea watchers edging the shore.

And behind me
along the path,
these wood shingled houses
bleached grey
surrounded by porches,
trestle tables set out
ready to receive
this doormat sized flounder
stripped of its scales,
sizzling for a few moments
in butter melting in a hot pan
until it is crisp and golden,
covered in dill
clams drenched
in bread crumbs and garlic
rushed in and out of the oven,
the corn, small kernelled
like infant teeth,
picked while still sheathed in dew,
tomatoes fresh from the vine
sliced and drizzled
with basil and olive oil.

I turn, face the shore,
see a flotilla of sailboats
come home,
let twilight end
the slow drowse
of memory.

·    ·    ·

Rockport rowboat

This poem, an homage to the many summers I spent walking (and eating!) along the Atlantic Ocean from Fire Island to Cape Cod, focuses on the town of Rockport, an hour’s drive north of Boston.

Because of pedestrian right of way laws, the town is a walkers paradise where the so-called Atlantic Path allows for a glorious ocean front hike over flat granite rocks that extends for miles around the shoreline in either direction. People who own homes along the way are usually gracious as you pass and often offer greetings even as they enjoy their sunset cocktails or the evening meal on the porch.

Then there is Bearskin Neck, a quaint but not cloying collection of cottages placed at all angles, weathered like sea wrack and jutting out into the harbor, a flourishing artist colony, the Neck is a tourist destination with many restaurants and shops.

As for the film, it was a forgettable Spielberg effort—indeed I don’t remember its name— but enjoyed watching it in progress.

From my book, In the Ninth Decade, Red Dragonfly Press.


PNA Swoosh


6 thoughts on “Ode to Summer

  1. Marilyn, this is marvelous! So perfectly evocative of the eastern seaboard in summer…I can hear the clink of rigging on masts, smell fried clams wafting in salty air…a particularly different light and feel than here on the west coast somehow, though you’d think it should be similar.

  2. Marilyn, So good to read your wonderful poem evoking summer so exactly, especially for those of us in Massachusetts. (Of course, the description of the flounder etc. has made me very hungry!)

  3. Marilyn, I enjoyed starting my day with an unexpected detour through Rockport! Thanks for making one of my favorite places so accessible.

  4. Pingback: Ode to Summer - Marilyn Zuckerman Marilyn Zuckerman

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