Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Heat waves in California and the East: here's a poem from The Apparitioners, written and published during a drought years ago, that seems timely again.

The Country of Perfect Weekends

For months on end we had no rain.
The weekends wheeled by, spokes around
A parching sun that flung off light,
Satellite of drought transmitting
To our state. No one seemed to care--
Terrific day! was the watchword--
And while whole forests burned to ash
We watered our lawns, secretly
At night against the governor's
Decree, sprinklers drawing their fronds
Like pale girls in prom gowns over
Cool thick grass.
Lake levels slipped low;
We saw the bed for the first time
In years, how filthy it had gone
In the polluted interim.
A pall of muck, the drifted ash,
Clotted tires and matchbooks,
Stopped the mouth of an odd beer can
From gurgling its jingle and fouled
The bottom springs that fed the lake.

It became a pastime, looking
In: we saw these things through faces,
Ours, spread over them like clear shrouds
Preserving shapes as they decayed.
Three deep along the shore or poling
Out in longboats, our reflections
Vanished into fissures when the sun
Hit high noon and stayed, crackling dry
The lake, and our fair state became
A country of perfect weekends
Where no one traveled or complained.
Standing in shadows, to each his own,
We hunch like water birds above
The hacked lake bed, searching for us.


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