The End of August

By Margaret Ray

The beetles have gathered in pairs
at the tops of stalks of grass
to get in one last fuck before the fall,
and why not? This time of year I let the juice
run down my chin when I eat a peach, let it
merge with the river of sweat down
my chest, speak freely in the days before
I have to become, once more, at work,
Ms. Ray, who only rarely curses, covers
her shoulders, fine, keeps a part of me apart
while I play this role as if a roomful
of teenagers doesn’t know the same thing I know,
which is that, despite the heat, the afternoon
shadows are longer than in June, and that
this feels like aging, like the end of something
every time it comes around. At home,
I move three-quarters of my mail directly
from the mailbox into the recycling bin. It’s still
August, despite the creeping busyness; I’m still
forgiven for “not seeing” emails. It will be
a week before I sit down to read writing by
other people’s children, to try to convince them
not to tell me what they think I want to hear,
as if they don’t know they’re made of
so many things besides words.
And now, over the drone of an administrator
at the end-of-summer faculty meeting,
a cicada, lazarus bug, must be perched
just on the windowsill, so loud it sings
outside this room, hissing its buzzingheat-
made-into-sound call that means
here, here I am, come and love me, I die.