Third Summer

Read between the lines and find mint in the dirt, butterfly bush,

the dull pain of an afternoon pulling greens from the ground.

One invasive species displacing another.

It’s alarming the ease with which I would join a cult

under the guise of community. To pick blueberries at daybreak,

lie naked on a Turkish towel for a full-fledged afternoon.

Weeks without looking at a screen

and to not bother how it’s bound to end.

In my late teens I worked at a sleepaway camp

my parents called cultish. I gave up hardcore for hippie songs,

tie-dyed my bedsheets, plucked ticks from my warmer parts.

Halfway through the third summer I left involuntarily, was placed

in intensive therapy. One cultish crowd for another,

the heat of hating oneself raw.

In nature, forest fires are part of an innate cycle of grave

and growth. Read between the lines and find both ash and dirt

underscoring my plea for purpose. Misgivings behind

too-long fingernails, traces of ruthless earth. How easy it is

to singe one’s hand on nettle, thinking it’s spearmint. 

Cis white man in his mid-thirties with patchy facial hair and short brown hair combed to the side. He is crossing his arms with a closed-mouth smile while leaning on a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf jam-packed with old books. He is wearing a black, gray, and olive green flannel shirt, which is unbuttoned. The shirt underneath is the same color gray as in the flannel.

Adam Gianforcaro is the author of the poetry collection Every Living Day (Thirty West Publishing House, 2023). His work can be found in The Offing, Foglifter, Poet Lore, Northwest Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Delaware.