This is from August 2010. I’m unsure if I’ve ever posted a version of it—I certainly can’t find it if I did. So here’s what may prove to be a slightly different version of another poem.
I pick up the shovel to the crack of thunder. The cool wind kicks the dust of hot earth onto my face. It mixes with salty sweat and dries into a hard second skin. This sandy clay, this loam, is as soft as any lovers skin and as hard as thick roots and rock.
I mix it with top soil and compost until it reaches an ideal consistency. Until it stays moist but doesn’t become waterlogged. Until it can maintain cohesion without becoming hard.
I concoct an elixir from the decaying wood of a dead tree; the topsoil of abandoned flower beds; the detritus of my coffee and tea addiction; onion and garlic skins. I mix and blend and water.
I avoid hornets far too big to be real. I maintain as tarantulas the size of my fist fixate on my slightest movement—bobbing down ready to jump. I talk to them in my crackling voice.
Thunder and cold wind. Cloudy shadows and distant lightning. I wait for the rain to break. I sit reading fantastic tales of Invisible Cities. I yield my watering to the inevitable rain. I focus on the sweat rolling down my back as it gets lost in tangles of hair.
I put down the shovel and wipe my face, a million cuts burn as the dry sand grinds in. I can smell the inevitable. Cool wind eases my irritated skin. I wait for rain and drink wine as thunder passes by.
I give up and fertilize some plants and let others starve. I am frustrated on the edge of deliverance from an overly dry summer. But the rain still won’t come.
I want to feel rain splattering on my face as I turn the page. I want nature to run its course and water the plants as I relax and enjoy the process as it was mindlessly designed. I want instinct to take over. I want to stop thinking. I want the sky to break open a torrent of rain.
I can feel the rain impossibly near. I can smell it closer now. It’s only the lack of splattering raindrops that keeps this from being a fully formed thunderstorm.
Every time I give up there’s that gust of wind. That strike of lightening. That roiling thunder that brings a ferocious smile to my face..
I pickup and put down the shovel, the spade, the hose, the rake. I search the heavens for a sign. I smell it approaching.
I feel it. All the insects and birds and spiders have retreated to where ever they go to and still there is no rain.
It is dark in the middle of the day; perpetual shadows and cool moist air twirl in the utter quiet carved from teasing thunder.
I am covered head to toe in dirt and sand and clay and sweat as the promise of rain dies in a blast of bright heat.