Monday, June 10, 2013

Return to Luxury

Temporarily stifled by the climate-controlled comfort inside,
I opened the door
And waded into the sticky June evening air
That hung like the wet towels of so many summer days
Spent swimming till after dark.

It hasn't gotten hot here yet,
But the humidity is already suffocating.
Hesitant to inspire, I wondered
How on earth did early Georgians survive
Without the luxury of HVAC?

My dogs, leashed and ready for their walk,
Looked at me expectantly
Tails wagging, panting to cool themselves.
While my freshly showered skin and carefully tousled coif
Beaded up with sweat.

Just as the reality of familiar discomfort
Began to settle in,
My unenthusiastic sigh was repurposed into the shyest of breezes,
Timidly urging me
To keep walking.

So I did,
Smugly anticipating my return to luxury
In less than an hour or so.
Unaware that I was now
Surrounded by it.

The late afternoon sun
Had yielded to evening's magic hour.
Shadowless, golden light
Suffused the heavy air,
And each of my breaths was redemptive.

And I was seduced by green's inglorious profanity,
Its primal, mundane allure.
From the feathery emerald-blacks of the evergreen bushes
To magnolia's waxy jade
And those whimsical broccoli-branched trees, screaming Dr. Seuss.

The wilder and more unruly the green, the better.
Manicured lawns, sterile and frigid,
Left little to my imagination,
Whereas pregnant cascades of muscadine
Evoked luscious daydreams of abundance.

Of blackberry-picking mornings
On camping trips in the North Georgia mountains
When I wasn't quite as attached
To creature comfort.
When my idea of luxury was making love under the stars.

Of majestic tree forts and grass-stained knees
When my boys were small
Buttering our noses with dandelions
Because that's what you do
When you're outside.

I was greeted at the front door
By a chilly blast of filtered air
And I realized I was shivering on the threshold of summer, reaching for a sweater in Georgia June.
Maybe my old friend green was telling me
That I've had luxury all wrong.


  1. Simply awesome ! Your choices of words for the poem is great.


  2. Kris, I don't think my English is good enough to judge a poetry, but I enjoyed reading. I had impression of "richness", both your words and feeling. I tried to pick up some favorite lines but there are too many of them. :-)
    btw, here in NC we also have such a humid weather for several weeks.

    1. My son was up in Asheville last weekend, and he was commenting about how he thought NC was a bit less humid than Atlanta, but it may have just been an effect of the higher altitude. Glad you enjoyed the poem, Yun Yi. I was definitely trying to encapsulate a sense of richness and fecundity.

  3. Nicely put, and inspiringly poetic :)

    Too often we feel like uncomfortable colonists in our own locales.

    1. You nailed it, John; that's exactly what pushed me outside the door. A strange, but liberating realization.

  4. Kris, that's freedom, isn't it? You capture the feeling so beautifully in your poem. To get outside, to explore, to see the world. What a strange thing civilization is! People spend their lives cooped up in little boxes-apartments, office buildings, classrooms, churches, buses, cars, the cramped cells of their minds. No wonder they feel suffocated and bored to death. They've lost their primal connection to nature, to their bodies, to life, to themselves. There's a Zen saying: When it is winter, you shiver; when it is summer, you sweat." That's how we're built; that's how we're made.

    1. That's how I felt during my entire walk: free yet very connected. I contemplated civilization, too, how we imprison ourselves in so many different ways. That Zen saying really resonates with me, especially given our recent discussion about reality.

  5. Beautiful imagery Kris; a total capture!
    & an ending with a message for us all.
    Cheers, ic

    1. Thanks, Ian. Who'dve thunk that an inner city dogwalk could be so inspiring?

  6. Wonderful. Can't stand air con. Spend all day in an environmentally controlled clean room at work. Give me fresh air any day.
    Love the imagery.

    1. Dale, I envy you living somewhere where you don't have to use A/C. Our late spring this year has been very mild. Maybe global warming will have a positive impact here in the South, preferably in the form of Northern California weather :-D

  7. Kris, a lovely poem with such picturesque imagery. I felt as if I was walking along with you and the dogs in the late afternoon sun enjoying the beauty of the greenery around us. Yes, that simple beauty is the real luxury we often forget as we become so accustomed to creature comforts. I especially loved the way it evoked memories of camping trips in the mountains with your sons:
    “Buttering our noses with dandelions
    Because that's what you do
    When you're outside.”
    Wonderful verse and it takes me back to my childhood. Buttering noses with dandelions, that is truly luxury!

    1. When I was little, I thought of dandelions as flowers, not weeds. I still think they're beautiful, especially the giant-sized ones in Eastern Europe. Even after they wilt, they leave a fluff-ball for blowing, and greens for eating. Young or old, dandelions are one of Nature's true delights.

  8. A great poem, nothing better than stepping out into nature, unless it is filled with car fumes and the exhaust of too many air conditioners...then its horrible.

    1. Although I live inside the city of Atlanta, our little neighborhood isn't too jam-packed with cars or people; it's a walking neighborhood where restaurants and parks are easily accessible on foot. Lots of green and old trees and beautiful flowers this time of year. We do hear the MARTA train roaring by sometimes, but it's become part of the background noise.

  9. I'm not much for reading poems but you did a fantastic job. The picture you painted became very vivid indeed.

  10. Sometimes we totally lose the meaning of real luxury. The feeling of being free in the outside world without any interferences. Running through the bushes and tall grasses, playing in the mud and feeling the hot sun on your face. Let's get back to nature every now and again. I long for the summer in the UK which never seems to come but when I was in Georgia everyone preferred to be surrounded with Air Conditioning when I just wanted to be outside. It's a funny old world, and we never seem to appreciate what we have.
    Your post is very well put Helena, and very vivid. Enjoyed your poetic style too. You sure have many strings to your bow :)

    1. Glad you liked the poem, RPD. Next time you're in GA, let me know! I'll hang out with you outside.

  11. hopefully love will come running well


  12. Being a poet myself I love to see others trying on poetry for size and having fun with it :) You have some beautiful imagery in your poem and you really get the sense of a hot, humid night and your drifting thoughts, I enjoyed this very much.

    1. Thank you, Jade. I really had fun writing this, just being loose and not making it rhyme. I think I will try writing poetry more often.

  13. Love, Love, Loved!!! I could feel the heat as I read. Air conditioning truly is a luxury that so many of us take for granted. Myself included :)