The Last Time I Saw Summer

By Annie Zidek

This summer, the sun beat down, but its love beat down even harder; it was like Sofia Coppola directed the minute details, but my body did the rest. Girls and boys played games we’d seen in films, and the midsummer heat felt all but hazy. It burned. There are scars. But that’s what summer is, and you don’t give up the fight. Here in the empty time lapses of October, I’ll tuck in small poems from June, her masterful hands slitting throats, from July, his hair caught fire in the afterglow, and from August, her voice echoing through six countries.


crystalized hearts chase Mars at dawn

their sun soaked tresses leave trails

of forgotten lightdust on the road

and at night lightbugs

make love in the brush next to the street

the setting moon is our war call

and we shriek

and we scour

until there’s no one left to fight



lapping milk out of your hands

before it seeps through the cracks.

the wolves have already kissed

the blank space between my neck and shoulder.

they’re painted crimson with my blood:

my fingers in the alpha,

my toes in the omega.

I’m in more than two places at once;

I’m dancing past pink houses

and prowling past babies I’ll never meet.

orion, what have you done?

now my bones are merely rattles

for the male ego while the snow

sits stained with my fidelity.

tame these beasts with a thread,

stitching decency and formality into their paws

so each time they step

their bodies ache with weight of their knavery.



the days are wine: sweet, hazy, smooth.

we sat in nervous grass and swam in eager rivers.

our blood is too sweet,

so the mosquitoes kiss us—arms, lips, thighs.

we ache for weeks with red welts of love,

small reminders that parts of us are so easily taken.

like a canned peach, the sun swells

bulbous and fruitful in a hasty sky.

standing atop church spires during golden hour,

I watch the sun cower.

I’ve never seen someone leave earth so quickly,

and now the pregnant moon reigns with summer hymns.

naked bodies and think air:

this is July.

Don’t look back at June;

she carries a weight no man can handle.

one of her nights, they used ice from saturn’s rings

as machetes and slaughtered those

with curved spines and restless sons.

amorous lips and amorous hands and—

mmf—those german lullabies lull me into promises

i cannot keep.

we are walking on the rubble of dresden:

charred, unsteady, guilt-ridden.

but we are humans, eager for touches

and broken toes.

ignoring pocket watches and bedside lamps,

we mimic schiele’s “lovemaking,”

with disfigured lines and steady colors

bleeding into the white with our confident hands.

our jaws will start wars

and our knees will buckle under

and we will be collateral.

there won’t be an armistice;

instead our mouths will be lined with canker sores

and our countrymen will rot with us in enamored skin.