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SUMMER EVENING for Stanley Cook

Every summer comes an opaque evening

before the beach is filed in a wallet of snaps

and leaves give themselves to relighting autumn;

dusk looks forward to night and goes hungry.

It's brisk in BQ and the garden centre's night-scented colours

are loaded in backs of estates. And in parks

that saw offices undress for lunchtime tans

lads roam the pitch in the wake of the World Cup,

wood after deliberate wood finds a path in its own curve to the jack.

Everywhere is couples, and the pushchairs

that make sense of the season next year or the next;

pubs spill out into continental tables laughing

like it might last. Swans on a river

and a row boat moored for Wordsworth's

midnight second-self: the sunstruck summer

between English rain bewilders you in my place.

The lawn needs a trim. The red v at dad's throat

reminds me he can't speak any more than you,

as if people, once dead, just wandered out

and never gave us another thought, in this

long muggy twilight, poised as it is

on the brink of decline into repletion,

harvest to be chilled, tinned, pressed,

as if we could keep it that way.

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