summer greets me as an old lover stumbling awkwardly through catch-up conversation— all the ease of familiarity is long gone. she endeavors to reclaim it: “hey, remember when—?” but the thrill falls flat as week-old cola. she’s the same, yet different; as golden as the old days, her eyes still blazing sunsets, though her burnished skin has dulled with time. we fumble through the motions, but we know it’s not the same. in desperation, she kisses me and the sweet-tart tang of pink lemonade is on my tongue, runs a river of liquid august down my throat— and i’m ten again, back when mama mixed up pink kool-aid powder with two full cups of sugar in her favorite water pitcher and called it lemonade. those days, mama would kiss my grazed knees each time I flew too close to the sun by jumping off the old tire swing that she hung from her willow tree. but the branch no longer holds my weight, and mama hasn’t kissed my cuts in at least six summers. these days, i stick a band-aid over my own scrapes like a good grown-up, but they just don’t heal quite right. the lemonade on summer’s lips is suddenly too sour; she leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. her kiss no longer satisfies the craving in my gut for the sweetness of before. we hug good-bye, make empty promises to meet up again soon, but her touch is cold and i feel the chill of autumn in my lungs.
Madison Rowan Taylor is a senior at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio. They will graduate this May with a degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and they hope to pursue a career in writing novels with a special focus on magical realism. When they’re not writing, Madison enjoys walking their dog Finn or reading poetry by Emily Dickinson. The Albion Review marks Madison’s first official publication, and they would like to thank their mentor Thor Mednick and their sister Shelby Linenkugel for their continued love and support.