HIGH SUMMER

leaves droop from trees 
the sky droops from branches 
like a white sheet 
to hold the locusts in 
their buzzsaw whine 
a blaze of sound 

july is god's forge, god's 
hammer coming down 
again and again, stupefyingly 
hot at seven o'clock 
the heat its own kind of sound 
a swarm upon my skin 
july is sumo wrestling with the sun 
belly to belly we stomp 
and sweat and shout 
the sun always wins 

the birds slump and pant 
too hot to chase the 
screaming insects 
even the wind 
dries out, curls up panting 
in the woodpile 
with the snakes. 


AUGUST LAMENTATION

Lord it's hot. 
The words won't come.
It hasn't rained
in weeks, Lord.
O Lord
have you forgotten us?

Down here
we are dying.
Everyone has guns
and saws; the river
has a pipeline
pointed at its head.

Down here
we un-knit your quilt
faster than your hands:
every twenty minutes
a species disappears.
We blame someone else.

My knees hurt from kneeling
at altars you no longer grace:
dead forests, churches
cushions, rugs.
Prayers rattle in the ditches
mean as snakes

and I writhe in bed
instead of sleep, repeating
myself -- look. Look
what I have become:
slack with fear, mad with grief
and shame, a bush

that burns and does not burn,
does not know its name --
o if you cannot weep for us
then weep, Lord, for your trees.
Send rain. Save
one thing you have made.


E. D. Watson