A Rumtopf for Summer

Desmond Graham’s second publication from the Villa Vic Press, Newcastle, published in Limited and Special Editions, with wood engravings by Chris Daunt (Newcastle upon Tyne 1990: 12 specially bound copies and 200 numbered copies signed by the author and the artist). Fifteen poems, with thirteen of them on different fruits to place in the jar so as to make the Rumtopf, which holds the phases and pleasures of summer’s long passage, preserved in poems.

All these past summers you did not make it,

something to hold against the way

each time May comes it can no longer

be looked forward to, something to gather the petals

you feel drift past your face even as you

look up for the first time and think Spring

has just this minute started. This time

you will make it, encouraged perhaps

by knowing if you do not start now

then why ever? Starting right now,

taking it into your hands, feeling its weight

balanced this moment in the curve of your fingers,

no longer empty and not reaching

towards it, knowing that unless

you take hold of it now it has gone on past –

so this first day of summer I reach for it,

take on its emptiness which will loose its space,

I hold gleaming sides, room enough for summer,

and start, with a twist of my hand open – this jar.


Wood engraving by Chris Daunt