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(314) Heat Wave - O'Driscoll

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  • Sam Droege
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2004
      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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