The rough balsam of summer heat,
Shot through with grit,
Leaves slick and sweaty all it touches.
A warm, greasy clamminess
That speaks of stagnant ponds
And rope-shorn tyre swings;
Of mud-pitted puddles
Oily with their fat, ridged edges
Crusting to seething craters
Pinched in by slugs of dark earth.
Even the air is thickened,
Dripping with the taste of this
Stained and tainted time,
And it is all old, yellow lace
And thin, worn gingham,
And dusty, ripped denim
That we shed by the water.
It is hot and rank as sweat
On wet skin,
And the heavy green brocade of duckweed
Bobs ominously close
To unwary limbs.
Fingers trail, viridian to pitch,
Forging runnels in the slime.
No respite, no forgiving;
Everything seeps together,
Heat-fused, baked and boiled,
Bubbling together in this fetid, potent cauldron.
Iridescent dragons flicker between the midges
And we melt into the parched, sticky dirt.
© Anna Reith. All rights reserved.
Available in the print volume House of Choices: collected poems.