Academic journal article Hecate

Last Night of the Heatwave

Academic journal article Hecate

Last Night of the Heatwave

Article excerpt

1.

the newsreaders are all in their shirtsleeves

on t.v. tonight, everyone sits near

naked waiting for the weather stories

& the promise of at least a breeze

that doesn't blow like a geyser.

breathe if you can.

walk to the fridge for cold water

& leave a trail of sweat on the carpet

like footpuddles after a shower.

breathe if you can.

44 degrees Celsius, that's

one hundred and eleven (!)

on the old scale. no cool

change in sight. but it must come

oh, it must come. 35 degrees overnight

but the sun won't be shining, the sky

will have stopped burning. & it must come.

it must.

i wiggle the palm leaf fan near my face

it stirs up the hot air & makes my wrist ache

i long for snow & ice. the talking wallpaper

offers it like a dream, ads & a black & white illusion.

2.

you have left the hills & corrugated iron stillness

for the dust bowl of concrete & dry parks,

i'm glad that you came, i had been alone & now

we can suffer together & bask like beached whales

on couch & floor & wallow in the bath. the mind

refuses to function, it is too hot to read

we console each other with glasses of water

too hot to get drunk. we sit it out.

3.

the restless night draws in, all the doors

& windows are flung wide. a joint. we can't sit still

pace like caged animals, the street breathes heat

like a jewelled dragon but there are no knights

on chargers to take us away.

we walk. very slowly. the dry air

scraping along the throat like a derelict's feet

on the pavement after the last bottle of muscat

has smashed in the dry gutter. shards of ice.

& at the party we are wafted over

by a brass bladed fan & offered drinks

with the vicar & a grandmother who dislikes children

intensely now that her own are all grown up

& off her hands. the light blazes from its shade

& highlights the bizarre company of matching sets

of royal wedding china & a great-grandmother &

gasping like a landed fish.

there's talk of gold chains & cheap jewellers &

strange names, semaphore & a desert song (sahara

would make a good name for a girl, no worse than

africa or millicent). …

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