A week or two every August for nine years
we lived our heart’s desire, surrounded by water
and birdsong and starlight;
pulled on bathing suits each morning
and stripped them off reluctantly at night
when we emptied the clumsy aquarium
filled daily with creatures aquatic or terrestrial,
best of all a tree frog whose gelatinous toes
splayed out on the tank’s sheer walls
hoisted him up to its artificial heaven.
Our children were small, then bigger; outgrowing
the glistening sunfish they reeled in off the dock,
evenings playing Scrabble or watching meteors scatter.
They became restless, requiring frequent trips to town
where they checked their e-mail at the library
and browsed the stores for unnecessary purchases:
t-shirts bearing silly slogans, exploding candy.
Soon friends bussed up north to join them
in long secretive conversations on the dock,
late nights watching movies on their laptops.
Eventually the cottage failed to contain them.
We could no longer spy on their antics.
Summers are long now in the hot city
waiting for them to email us from
wherever they go next.
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