Wendy Carlisle

The Words for Hot

A Line

The roosters call morning
from house to house, light takes the hills
until the valley's only mist

hangs back in the landscape's corners.
All night the cold worried my feet.
I dreamed of beaches,

lay awake inventing shapes to trap
my own blood heat,
but found no way to catch

the afternoon sizzle in paving stones,
the hiss from whitewashed walls. A bone-
ache chill replaced them. This morning

I crave all the names for hot
that are not another body--
cauldron, scorch, volcano, August, roast

sirocco. I know there are
not enough various heats in this
one flesh to match the dazzled brick.

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The 2River View, 3_4 (Summer 1999)