We heard that first summer coming,
sounding low like heralding drums rumbling
far away, like a desert freshet, like a torrent
of rain all-enveloping, cascading down
a stone-dry arroyo unstoppable.
And some of us saw it coming in declensions
through the distance, the spinning bowls
and rolling barrels of its hot brasses glinting
among the cloud shadows on the plains
and on into the darker buddings of the forest.
And we felt the sound of sun sprouting,
pushing and parting bindings of sizzling
chee and wheat grasses, an airy swarm
of midges, scattered lacewings, checkered
whites, bee breath everywhere, the hard
beginnings of pomes and pips. We heard
the vines, already smothering, bosky
pea bush, rabbit bush, snakeweed flowering
one after the other, all repeating their chords
of climbing blossoms, blinding the ears.
Prairie swallows, kingbirds, blackbirds, larks,
swirled and darted over the flows of the land,
sounding their triangle notes, into the delves,
attacking and courting, frantic with purpose.
We believed in light and its roiling forms.
The fragrance of this new born summer
was the purest force, rank, sweet, meaty,
and rotten, heady powder, lilac talc, one brief
dusting of paprika-pepper plucking like a guitar
barely there, a remembrance of cinnamon.
That first summer came suffocating
with temptations of pain, not ardor, though
we called the ardor pain, the way it could take
anyone unwillingly and the body had to move,
to run to catch up, the allure, once a cry, once
the terror of laughter (a night singer throughout
singing an encore in solo), to follow, finally
grasping, swinging over, lifted, carried away,
every faith in the body holding on.
© Pattiann Rogers