wasn’t it just a minute ago we were practicing putting our feet up, wiggling our bare-naked garden-stained toes?
weren’t we succumbing to the temptation to carry plates of food outside, light candles, watch the summer cloak of darkness fall, drape our shoulders, drape the twilight?
and, poof, in an instant didn’t it get swallowed, like a giant slurping down a clump of grapes?
here we are, back at it.
rising sharp at 6:01, no luxury of rolling back to sleep. there are boys to rouse, and oats to stir. there are slabs of bread to be slathered, meat slapped down, slithered into baggies. there are lunches to be lined across the counter, so many paper-bag soldiers awaiting their call to duty: fill the bellies of the hungry boys when the lunch bell rings at school.
one more round.
already, we had scissors out, were clipping pages from a stack of magazines, sifting through the baby picture box, in search of pictures that would tell the story of who was the tousle-haired boy squirming in his chair, the boy not ready to be back in a desk, on the dark side of the windowpanes, looking out onto the field where balls aren’t bouncing anymore, because children are back in straight-back chairs and desks and rows and raising hands again and trying to net the daydreams that flutter in the space where numbers and letters once again are swirling, are in charge, are trying to compute, to fall in neat and tidy rows and columns, make sense after the long summer’s snooze.
here we are, back at it.
there are school supplies to fetch and forms to be signed, in triplicate. and checks torn out and paper-clipped to notes that scold: do not be late, or else you will be sent to unforgiving chair in corner, where you will wait out the remainder of the year.
oh, and carpools. back at that, too. remembering that it’s monday and not the day you drive, but if it’s tuesday you do drive, only not the late shift, it’s the early shift. and don’t forget the one boy who only comes every other tuesday. so don’t sit out in front at his curb, waiting for him to lope out to the car, where you will squeeze him in, because your car isn’t quite as big and roomy as all the others in the carpool. so you slip sunglasses on your too-young-to-be-in-the-front-seat child, and you hope the nice police officer passing by doesn’t glance over and think, how odd, that toddler in the front seat.
for you’ve no time to be pulled over by the nice officer, no time to explain, to make him understand how, yes, yes, the child’s five pounds shy of the legal limit for front-seat riding. but really, how else will you get him where he needs to be? what, mr. officer, you think i can do all this driving on my own, without a carpool to assist? just to have the child snuggled safe in the seat behind me? oh, mr. officer, you do not understand: we are back at it here.
and we will do whatever need be done to make it from alarm clock at dawn till light’s out back at midnight.
we are surviving, mr. officer, and that’s all we can hope for. summer’s over, sir, at least as far as principals and teachers are concerned, and so it’s back at it for the grownups and the kiddies still under the thumb of the schoolhouse ways-and-means committee.
oh, we might sneak in a little morning’s coffee under the boughs of the pine tree where the wind chimes sing their end-of-summer song. might muddy all our toes squishing through the garden where the sprinklers try to make up for the lack of so much rain.
we might lick one more ice cream cone out where the fireflies do their blinking.
but we know the sorry truth here: we’re back at it once again, and summer’s break is a long, long way away.
have you been hit yet by the end-of-summer blues? have you been hit between the eyeballs by the non-stop pace that comes with the brink of each september?