the long hot summer


He dreams of clouds and forests twilit,
footsteps muffled in the mosses,
branches trailing spider webs bejeweled with dew
while mist wraiths twine between the trees

He dreams of wind flung drops.
Runs with them,
following rill to course to channel,
wild and free amid the sprays and thunder of cascades
flowing, falling,
calling.

And the green:
The night black green of lichen and ferns in the shadows.
The exotic, exuberant growth, almost too bright to bear
in the pockets where trees have fallen.
The living sheen on trunk and limb.
A tide, building over ledge and boulder.
Life; drinking, thirsting, unquenched, overflowing

But when he wakes,
in the dark.
Still cool enough to believe,
even, only, for an instant.
If.
If only.

He watches the last stars fade.
Watches the horizon glow.
Looks away,
though he can feel the glare of it.
Rising.

Dry grasses against stone.
Windsong reduced to one hard refrain,
but whether reproach or curse he can’t decide.
Among walls and rocks the restless dust stirs and swirls.

Beyond the broken fence line,
a tree offers bare branches, beseeching, lamenting.
He thinks its limbs like shoulders raised
in one last shrug

If, he thinks.
If only.

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