The sky is, as it was the day before and the day before
And countless days before that, impossibly blue,
Wholly unimpeded by the possibility of clouds.
The hiker stops, taking in the moment, the entire tableau:
Clean lines of mesas rising abruptly in the distance,
The tangible, almost corporeal dryness of the air,
A silence so all-encompassing as to be almost
An entity in itself, and he thinks out loud
How the fingerprints of God’s beauty are to be found
Even on a place like this. His guide, who has simply
Nodded along unconsciously like a dog or hula girl
On a dashboard to this point, hesitates a moment.
Mebbe so, he says with due deliberation,
Although I’d be perfectly content if your God
Was a little more disposed to look favorably upon humidity.
Well of course the beach is pristine, the cabby barks,
It never stops bloody raining long enough for anyone to set foot on it.
He lectures his fare, visiting Thomas’ ugly, lovely city on business,
Almost non-stop the entire trip to the hotel—a litany of woe
Centering on decades of rising damp, unconquerable mold,
Picnics scheduled in fits of near-lunatic optimism always victim
To drizzle and outright downpour, and, just before he pulls to a stop,
The driver opines I’ve seen Heaven in my dreams, and it’s a sandy place
Without a gutter or downspout in sight.
The lake, lovely and Y-shaped (but deep, holding swimmers and fisherman
Who cramped up or fell victim to a sudden chop or their own inattention
At its bottom as closely and tightly as dark secrets) is just visible
In the distance, and it is not worth a damn, the glaciers which carved it out
Having left ridges and moraines making it impossible to reach
With pumps and pipes, no more useful for irrigation
Than a spigot on the side of a farmhouse; and so they wait,
Vacillating between patience and near despair, for the rain
That will no more come today than it has not for near a month now,
A drought that no one in this part of the Finger Lakes has ever seen,
Even old Jess Bower, who had long since seen ninety come and go
(But he was strangely quiet on the subject, a first as all would attest,
Saying simply Can’t tell ‘bout these things, sometimes),
And most nights the heat of August mocks them,
Stirring with thunder and the occasional bit of dry lightning,
But not a shower, not even a spit to go along with it.
Fucking Christ, how can you sweat in weather like this,
But he is soaked, layer upon layer, coat to tee shirt,
Having shoveled twelve, maybe sixteen inches of thick, wet flakes
Which have congealed together in great soggy clumps
Like so many forkfuls of badly prepared mashed potatoes,
The kind of snow that clog streets and causes coronaries
And brings the kids with shovels strutting hopefully door-to-door,
Shovel yer walk for a ten spot, mister.
As he peels down to tightie-whities and turns on the shower,
He thinks to himself, Shit, a couple degrees warmer,
This is all rain, and I am on the couch the last coupla hours.
(Back in the farming country, everyone asleep in spite of the heat
And the long dry, only a solitary old mutt dozing on the porch steps
Is awakened by the roll of thunder, and the subsequent splatter
Of the huge drops, which lead the dog to rise up
And saunter back onto the porch,
The rain upon his fur making him distinctly uncomfortable.)