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was terrible. Plague on the winds, in the air,
on our tongues in the midst of old conversations.
Set within millions of homes, exhausted
lamps flicked on and off and on again: all hours.
Somewhere the sound of an infant’s wail thick
in the limbs of sycamores. Somewhere
a dog’s bark caught in his throat. And
the drought-fried grass, which hosts no fireflies.
And the promise of thunderstorms never fulfilled.
Someone delivered fruit on the porch:
nectarines, oddly noble in blue plastic bags,
as if they were already past, objects in an oil painting,
maroon and peach, solid with sheen. Somewhere
a piano chord struck. Somewhere a cat stretches
long limbs awake. Somewhere a face on a screen
like a comet’s tail. Lit, dissipating. Books tried
to intervene, comfort, offer up visions. The old
world in a fervent embrace. And heat bore down.
Honeybees went up in whorls of smoke
from the lawns. Outside people rushed by,
their apocalyptic eyes darting toward you, away.
Head down, run on. The hose watered day and night
so that something, anything might thrive.
Why not Zinnias? Asters? On the counters,
fruit unknotted itself, melted down in the heat,
mealy and bruised. But in the shrillness
of multiple fans the kitchen erupted
in nectarine fragrance,
And so, too, the whole house.
And so, too, the day.
Copyright 2021 Sharon Fagan McDermott
Sharon Fagan McDermott’s books include Life without Furniture (Jacar, 2018). She lives in Pittsburgh.