Another Idaho summer night: dog-tired weather.
A mass of smoke and cloud broods on the house,
every door and window outspread to the sultry air.
Her husband is away again, fire-fighting
somewhere up along the Snake; the twins finally
tucked in upstairs; her eldest son in town.
Over the throbbing of the fan, plates and cups
conspicuously clangor in the white enamel basin,
filmed with chicken grease and suds, sweat-like
where she brushes her forehead with her hand.
She lifts the screen door latch up with her hip,
moving to the heavy darkness of the porch; even
crickets hushed in the close, curled hand of heat.
She settles on the step, her knees drawn child-like
up to brace her chin. Watching from the porch
she sights the eager lightning snaking up the sky,
the headmost pellets of the unloosed storm.
She lifts the heavy knot of hair up off her neck,
to catch the sudden stinging coolness of the air.
Hours later, when the storm is spent,
late droplets padding into buckets
from the roof, she lies wide-eyed
in the immense four-poster bed,
her bare arms circling on the sheet,
smoothing furrows, rubbing out the ache.
Faces, places, premonitions chase
across the roof with the last of the rain.
The war was still unborn that summer,
death not unknown but yet some stranger
limping by the gate, just passing through.
A schoolgirl—hazel eyes, burred chestnut hair—
lies watching through her eyes,
journeying the night-washed walls mapped
out in plaster cracks and the slow leak
of rain down through the bedroom roof.
The tallboy is on guard for trespassers
on her unstayed thoughts—she runs
the forest, runs in petticoats that shimmer
white beneath the dusky evergreen, she runs
and joyously she stops and throws her bare
white arms around a slender, supple fir.
—Christie (for my grandmother Nora)