After Seamus Heaney’s, Postscript

This was inspired by Seamus Heaney’s, Postscript. I’ve been working outside a lot this summer (as usual). It’s been hot and humid. Another world entirely from spring and fall.

Reading Heaney’s poem caused me to think about how even though summer in Iowa is so much different than fall in Ireland there is a presence to it, too.

Photo by Ruben Engel on Unsplash

After Seamus Heaney’s, Postscript

And sometime take the time to walk up the hill, beyond
the still oaks that look over the valley. Go on farther,
into the old field now filled with goldenrod and Indian grass.
Do this in June or July when the sun is high, as the
last drenching rains are drawn up by the green and
exhaled into the air; when even the dragonflies pause
to rest on glistening stems of grass. Not a breath of wind
up here. The sun and the humid air press you into the ground
until your legs no longer move. Stand still, then, that’s all
that remains. Draw a breath and feel the steamy air enter
your lungs, feel your feet planted on the earth, and
the sweat trickle down your back. Know that all around you,
all that moves stands still, waiting, and all that stands still
stretches upward toward the heavy sun. And for a moment,
you might feel the convenient lines that separate plant
from animal, animate from inanimate, the quick from the dead
shimmer and blur.

– Steve Peterson

Published by

Steve Peterson

I teach fifth grade in Iowa.

11 thoughts on “After Seamus Heaney’s, Postscript”

  1. This: “the sun is high, as the
    last drenching rains are drawn up by the green and
    exhaled into the air”

    I can smell the corn, the spicy goldenrod. I am there with you, sweat trickling down my back, feeling those lines blur.

    1. Heaney’s poem is so blustery and wild. My eyes drifted all over that poem, both outward and inward, which made me realize that I’ve only felt that kind of unbounded wildness on a shore of a large body of water, too. But my landscape, especially in the summer can be heavy and slow, less outward than inward. I find myself looking down, under the grasses. Feeling my feet slow and plod.

  2. Just wonderful, Steve – so evocative that I feel as though I need some cool lemonade right away:
    “Draw a breath and feel the steamy air enter
    your lungs, feel your feet planted on the earth, and
    the sweat trickle down your back. Know that all around you,
    all that moves stands still, waiting, and all that stands still
    stretches upward toward the heavy sun.”

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by to read, Tara! It HAS been hot this summer and the humidity high, too. I’ve found myself moving through the fields on days like that and, without really realizing it, my feet stop moving and a realize how the plants seem more like animals — searching and stretching and breathing — and the animals, myself included, take root and wait.

  3. I wrote about being in a place like this today too, that ending is wonderful. I envy those who live in the country. Thanks for writing this beautiful poem, a great ending to my day.

    1. Thanks so much for introducing me to THE BEE TREE over at TeacherDance. I will have to look for that in the library. I live in a very rural area. I think the kids might be able to relate to these poems.

  4. Your poem captures August perfectly–that stillness and heat and humidity pressing all around and forcing us to slow down.

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