“Swimming In Summer” – Villanelle For August

Swimming In Summer

I’ve posted this villanelle before, but it seems pretty appropriate for Sunday evening, mid-August.

Swimming in Summer


Our palms grew pale as paws in northern climes
as water soaked right through our outer skin.
In summers past, how brightly water shines,


its surface sparked by countless solar mimes,
an aurora only fragmented by limb.
Our palms grew pale as paws in northern climes


as we played hide and seek with sunken dimes,
diving beneath the waves of echoed din;
in summers past, how brightly water shines.


My mother sat at poolside with the Times’
Sunday magazine; I swam by her shin,
my palms as pale as paws in northern climes,


sculpting her ivory leg, the only signs
of life the hair strands barely there, so prim
in summers past.  How brightly water shines


in that lost pool; and all that filled our minds
frozen now, the glimmer petrified within
palms, grown pale as paws in northern climes.
In summers past, how brightly water shines.

(All rights reserved, Karin Gustafson)

For more about villanelles, how to write them, and how they are like Magnolia Bakery’s banana pudding, check out this and this.

And for more poetry by Karin Gustafson, get ready for a book!  Coming out soon!  It is called Going on Somewhere – with poems by Karin Gustafson, illustrations by Diana Barco.   I will be writing more about this soon.   In the meantime, check out the poetry category of this blog for prior poetry posts.

Finally, if you are more interested in elephants than poetry, check out1 Mississippi, a counting book for children, their parents and their pachyderms.

Explore posts in the same categories: elephants, poetry, villanelle

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7 Comments on ““Swimming In Summer” – Villanelle For August”

  1. Lovely poetry and as I sit here on the 21st of August I applaud you this well-written villanelle. Good work!

    • manicddaily Says:

      Thanks so very much. I like villanelles a lot–they only require you to come up with a few lines!–and have posted several. If you are interested, I think they are listed under category villanelle, or can be searched as villanelle as well. Thanks again.

  2. Yep, that was how I found your poem. I had posted a villanelle and used the word villanelle as one of my tag lines and clicked on it and it took me here.

  3. hedgewitch Says:

    Yes, it is an exact opposite to mine, in a way, and yet, it has those pesky ghosts in it too, memory and the past very strongly evoked. I’ve only written one other villanelle myself besides the one you just read, and I don’t especially like it–I like the form a lot but I agree they’re very hard to keep from monotony in a bad way (sing-songiness) instead of a good, reinforcing way. This one is really good, especially in the transitions from stanza to stanza, despite that difficult refrain which could easily go sideways into cliche. But you definitely don’t even come close–this was even better second time through–very fresh, sad and sweet til the bitter end.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I think punctuation is super important in villanelle, as you don’t want people to stop at the end of each line or it gets kind of silly. I think they often read better aloud than on the page, because of that. People can’t help stopping at the end of a line but if you can control the reading (by doing it yourself, ha!), or with very strong punctuation and a lot of notes about following the punctuation, you can avoid that a bit.

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