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.