(314) Heat Wave - O'Driscoll
- HEAT WAVE
Heat brought the day to its senses.
We are not used to such direct
expressions of feeling here
with our wishy-washy weather,
our dry intervals and showers,
our clearance spreading from the west;
rain and shine -- ham actors --
mixing up their lines.
But there it was, the real thing,
an unstinting summer day,
not rationing its latitude for heat,
not squeezing out its precious metal
meanly between cracks in cloud.
Sunflower dishes tracked a solar path
across the radar screen of sky.
Apples swelled but still fell
short of breaking point.
The taut skin of black currants
would spurt open at a touch.
Ripening grain was hoarded
in the aprons of corn stalks.
A bee paused as if to dab its brow,
before lapping up more gold reserves.
Tar splashed the ankles of cars
as they negotiated honey-sticky routes.
Foxglove, ox-eyed daisy, vetch
jostled for attention on the verges.
Spiders hung flies out to dry.
A coiled snake -- puff adder
or reticulated python -- would
have thrived in that environment,
peaches supplanting gooseberries.
Were the river not reduced
to a trickle of juice within
reed-bearded banks, it might
have furnished cover for a crocodile
with sloped back patterned
like heat-soaked patio bricks.
A sudden low-lying cat dashed
between houses like a cheetah.
If that sun had made itself heard
it would have sounded like the inner
ferment of a cask of vintage wine,
the static on a trunk-call line
when someone phones out of the blue...
Birds retreated into silence, perched
deep inside leaf-camouflaged trees,
having nothing meaningful to add,
no dry-throated chalk-screeching
jungle note that would fit the bill.
A day that will spell summer always
for the child, too young to speak,
who romped outside among flower beds,
his mother's voice pressed thin and flat
as she summoned him languidly back
to the cool, flagstoned kitchen,
ice-cream blotches daubed
like sun block on his pudgy face.
- Dennis O'Driscoll
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