Our heated air smells only of dry grass and pine resin, unless I draw near the gardenia bush where two blossoms remain. Up there in the mountains the reek must be filling canyons and turning the sunlight a pale red that will deepen as evening progresses. Our light is golden this afternoon, and sunset's shade is apt to be no more intense than that of fading pink roses.
It has seemed a quite normal summer day, but that could all change within a few hours should the wind shift again, and would change even more if that giant thunderhead unleashes bolts of lightning that cause new fires. But wondering is pointless. There are feral cats to be fed, and plants to be watered before night swallows them. I might breathe fresh air all night, or I might not, but at least it will be cooler air.
It's almost time to open the windows and hear the crickets. Not an hour too soon.
by Michael Ondaatje
An hour after the storm on Birch Lake
the island bristles. Rock. Leaves still falling.
At this time, in the hour after lightning
we release the canoes.
Silence of water
purer than the silence of rock.
A paddle touches itself. We move
over blind mercury, feel the muscle
within the river, the blade
weave in dark water.
Now each casual word is precisely chosen
passed from bow to stern, as if
leaning back to pass a canteen.
There are echoes, repercussions of water.
We are in absolute landscape,
among names that fold in onto themselves.
To circle the island means witnessing
the blue grey dust of a heron
released out of the trees.
So the dialogue slides
nothing more than friendship
an old song we break into
not needing all the words.
We are past naming the country.
The reflections are never there
without us, without the exhaustion
of water and trees after storm.