present temperature

1. FIVE DEGREES

Somewhere a man with expensive eyeglasses

parses the smell of water

from a shelf of small clear tubes.

He is precise and the perfume

will keep its scent, even

when it dries.

This is true.

Also—

it costs a lot of money.

But you won’t understand that now.

This day. Dew like birthright.

Ditches and driveways

with their flat shiny puddles.

Wet skin of the morning. The wrist

of it. The neck.

 

2. NINETEEN DEGREES

You want to dip your fingers into something

and lick them: thumb finger finger finger finger.

Tall grass heating in the afternoon.

That place from your childhood, the one

you remember by smell, is just around the

corner. Every corner.

This one. Surely

this one.

 

3. THIRTY-SIX DEGREES

Government man calls the forest logs.

We have to save the logs, he says.

Lightning looks down with its big dry mouth:

Tinder. Kindling. Hard little nipples of wood.

All those names and no shade.

You test the thin edge of stillness against your finger.

Black spruce, aspen, lodgepole, birch.

Timber. Cutblock. Fuel type—

I’ll call you whatever you want if you take off your shirt.

Say it for me:

     Greed. Fingers. Precipice. Pine-pitch. Ignition.

Published online January 10 2008.


Poetry as Mirror cover image

This piece was published in ‘Poetry as Mirror,’ the Winter 2008 issue of CV2.

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