A linear poetry explication attempts to understand a poem’s meaning, systematically taking apart the potential meanings of each word. A linear explication would also take into account the length and shape of the poem, how a poet chooses to end each line, and how these connect as a whole. Sharon Thesen’s “Summer Twilight” is a short poem, and this brevity is one of the things that makes it stand out. It is brevity that is very intentional, and we can look at this for insight into the poem’s potential meaning.
The poem takes us on a ride from individual images, the most basic building block of color, to a memory. The lines of the poem increase in length and complexity as the poem goes on, and these mirror the gradual change of the poem from one about physical images to one about memory. During the last few stanzas, the poem reaches its height of length and complexity in its lines as the author reminisces about slurping candy at the corner store. As this memory comes to an end, the lines of the last stanza once again become brief and rather disconnected. “A wisp, that’s about it, that’s about all / that’s left of our sweet sweet lips,” as if the images of the memory are starting to dissolve again, and the speaker becomes reacquainted with the physical world around them.