I was half cocked that day in August when the light lost its ascendancy. Do you know the day I mean? It happens around the same time as cicadas begin buzzing and throbbing and crickets creak like a thousand wooden rocking chairs on shady wooden porches. I never anticipate what day it will happen. It just happens.
I took the dog out for a walk in the evening and we followed long, low rays of sun sliding through the trees, the light sawed off by branches, pieces of it scattered on the ground, mixed in with shadows. When we got home, white winged moths spiraled around the porch light, entranced by incandescence. They jostled for the spot closest to the stiff flame, twirling, going nowhere.
Before that day in August, dusk reeled in the sun slowly. In the kayak, paddles up, we’d drift on the lake, watching the tallest pine balance the sun like a plate spinner; watching water bugs shimmy in the light glittered water. The only wake coming from my pointer-finger dipped in the water.
After that day, the nights become half-lidded denials: We say: There’s still time to read, to plan, to go, to make, to do. But at bedtime, earlier now, my book falls on my face, mashes my glasses against my eyes and my eyelashes sweep the glass and leave a smear. My head floats in a pool of light but I can’t see my feet in the dark.
Now my bike commute begins in dawn’s murk, the tiny headlamp unfurling a white ribbon on the path, lighting up the yellow line ahead and catching geese roosting on the warm tarmac. They waddle out of the way, hissing at me as I go by.
I can’t remember May or June anymore. I can’t remember their bright nights and birds at full throttle, swallowing flies and worms whole, bobbing for more, and another, again and again. I can’t remember the long reach of the sun’s up stretched arms.
It happens every summer. The day daylight slips away. And every August I am half-cocked. Unwilling. Unready.