It used to be a languid month of dragonflies pulsing cellophane rainbow wings and cherry water ice so cold my mouth burned. August used to mean riding bikes until dark--pretending my red metal frame was a dappled gray mare named "Princess"--my pleated hair down my back like a horse's tail--my joyful cries like whinnying.
August used to be bathing suits and poolside weeks spiraling one after another after another until days all blended together for us--pool, store, endless rounds of graveyard tag. The game where, if you were touched, you had to die a grisly death and land on the blades of grass with as much authenticity as you could possibly manage.
August used to be flies slamming themselves against the backdoor glass--that ominous thud of the black buzzing ball and the fingertip smeared panes. They, too, were desperate for the air-conditioned relief from the heat. August was about the bats swooping at the high-pitched squeal I could command up at the delighted whims of my friends. "Do it, now...do it!" and I'd screech and the bats would tumble towards us like frightening falling stars. When we fell silent, they ignored us--typical constellations.
August was riding bikes on the flats where we weren't technically supposed to be...watching my brother and his friends jump their BMX bikes over piles of soil--heels kicking, bodies arcing with the silver flash of spiraling metal.
August was when you had to make every second count--no matter the heat, no matter the sweat, no matter the dizzy head or crimson skin. August was a last ditch bid for freedom. September looming on the horizon...August was a dear friend--a month wilted up and thunderstormed and full of sunlight.
Now, August is hot--it is brutal--it softens the tar of the blacktop and our cars slice through the streets rather than drive above them. August makes our letter carrier a little demented--flinging letters and stacks of bills with glee onto the hood of any car in the way of the mailbox. She pops the clutch hard on the red, white, and blue mail truck and laughs when it protests with a metallic groan. August makes her want to inflict that pain.
Now August is sunblocked and shallow breaths--gardens gone to ruins in the yard because neighbors are much too hot to tend them. There are no kids outside anymore. August now is lonely--is back-to-school already. The big yellow buses choke up the streets well before Labor Day. August has lost its fiery magic now...or have we?
© 2005 CDS