OF SWEAT AND DISTANCE

Spring 2015 / Issue 97

Shawn Delgado

When I can feel the heat’s weight, I stay sweating as if

this will prove that I work, if not cutting steel

or pushing a cart of hot dogs down the sidewalk

or a broom through an empty elementary school,

 

then at least at being alive. My first choice for cool

is the breeze, and if a trek’s ahead—let’s say

forty furlongs—I choose my own engine,

cooled by beads of brine on my skin and the wind

 

singing in my face while I pedal past traffic.

So far I’ve not been pickled by saline crystals

that barely glint in noontime light.

When I stumble into my neighbors buying fileted trout

 

or a cup of coffee, I avoid the handshake,

apologize through and for my dew,

answer any questions. I lean toward the polite,

though as a body might, I’d prefer a comrade to wrap

 

in the wave of an embrace, an ally to mist with a sea

fighting free of its holding ocean. I believe

that breed of people exists, just a bit rough.

When I meet one, I might see my life as a series of tides, receding

 

now, but rising in the future that will become past.

My sweat will leave a dark patch of moisture, the kind

that allows fallow ground to grow fecund and full without

a mind for tainted or grime, so lush you can’t see the filth.