Fiona Jones – Twinkling

Fiona Jones
Twinkling

For most of a century, urban legend has held that the Inuit have a hundred words for snow. Whole armfuls of different linguistic units, each with its own fine-lined nuances, distinguishing one snow from another by temperature, thickness, flake size, adhesion, building potential… Because the landscape that shapes our lives should also channel our language, and the weather should feed our wisdom.
      I wanted it to be true. It isn’t.
      But here I am living in the UK, where rain shapes our experiences as much as snow shapes anyone else’s. We see rain often. Thunderous downpours and grey-clouded drizzle, sleet horizontally driven, large spattering drops that blotch the ground and bubble the water. Alternating sunshine and showers, and that long, dreary, drenching rain that spills autumn over into winter. The very word ‘weather’, untempered by adjective, defaults to mean ‘rain’ for us.
      Situated as Britain is—on the boundary between continent and ocean, in the meeting-zone of conflicting air masses—we can receive our weather from Siberia one day and the North Atlantic the next, carrying its Caribbean influence of warmth and humidity. And so we see rain not only frequently but also variously.
      Incidentally (or not), we also have armfuls of words for rain—dialect words, slang, euphemisms, onomatopoeia, metaphors, traditions: April showers, a splash or a soak, nice weather for ducks, bucketing, pelting, chucking it down. Scotch mist on a dreich old day, spitting and mizzling, liquid sunshine to wry optimists leaning toward irony. Rainstorms, cloudbursts, deluges, dropping down cats and dogs, the old man’s snoring. A fresh phrase if we need one for every rainy day in the year.
      There’s an empty space here for just one more word: a name for that ambiguous, almost imperceptible twinkle of moisture from an open sky—less than drizzle, hardly more than dryness, a half-sensed droplet or two like a sneeze from a butterfly.
      Twinkling: brief, negligible rainfall that leaves you never quite sure if you felt it or not.                 AQ

Mary B. Kurtz – A Dark and Gnarled Wood

Mary B. Kurtz
A Dark and Gnarled Wood

I want to write about the weather. I mean I want to write about climate change. But finding the words and naming the issue feels fearful to the point of unmentionable, like when we avoid speaking of ‘death’ and instead, say, ‘The deceased. She passed away. He’s at peace. She’s in heaven.’ But never straight ahead—‘She’s dead. She died.’
      I’m expecting my first grandchild in several months. In his or her lifetime, will he or she see what I saw today on the ranch where I live? The lone coyote who slunk across the meadow coming up from the riverbank as I sipped my morning coffee. A mallard duck pair searching for nesting ground as they wandered the cottonwoods outside my kitchen window. Three crows harassing one another for a mate and twigs for a nest, their decisions thoughtful but quick. The five, petite, white tail deer who ran across the county road, leapt over the barb wire fence and scampered south into an early spring wind. And the ritual first sighting of the diminutive Rocky Mountain Bluebell and the delicate yellow Glacial Lilly, faithful along my walking trail.
      I couldn’t watch Alfred Hitchcock and other scary shows when I was a child. The threat felt all too close and too real in my mind. And now in my sixties, when I lay in bed in the middle of the night thinking about climate change, I feel the same way: it’s too close and too real. When fears overwhelm me: I foresee heat so high life must be lived inside; I imagine drought that threatens food stores and fuels fights over caches of seeds; I draw up floods in my mind more primal in their will each spring as though Noah’s story may become mine.
      I am powerless in the inky silence. I grasp for control to protect my children and grandchildren. In the morning, I ask in daylight, how close, how real, how threatening?
      When my children were young, the micro-climate of our home was different. The year my daughter, Cassidy, was born, warm weather and shorts for Memorial Day picnics were never a given. The last few years, late May might be rainy, but short-sleeve shirts are hanging in Pete’s closet. For over thirty years, my husband, Pete’s, hay season began in late July and lasted through the county fair in mid-August. This year he the rolled out the mower, rake and baler and made tracks with his John Deere in early July. In the eighties, I expected the tomatoes in the garden to freeze by Labor Day. As the gardening season came to a close last year in mid-September, I gathered green tomatoes from my vines and put them in the windowsill to ripen.
      And in 2012, snowfall records were broken. We knew the run-off would be high, but when warm days and moderate temperatures at night collided, the melt accelerated. With my son, Andy, I stood on the county bridge over the waterway. Above the roar, I said, ‘Andy, my mind tells me we’re safe, but I don’t feel like we are. I’ve never seen a river like this. No one could survive in there.’ I failed to find the words for the raw power of the waterway that midnight in the years since. But if there were a nightmare, it was but a few feet below where we stood. The Steamboat Pilot, our local paper, wrote the next day, ‘Elk River sets a record at 8,250 cubic feet per second’. Later, it was declared a 500-hundred-year flood event.
      Thoughts and conversations about the weather, once light and inconsequential, a point of easy common ground in social conversation, now carry a heavier weight. Extreme weather events, like the 2012 flood, and the changes in our seasons shadow our thoughts about the future. Several years ago, I felt reassured that mankind could cooperate successfully with the will of the earth when scientists believed the stratospheric ozone layer could right itself if human activity changed: less carbon emissions and less deforestation. Now, new predictions, statistical data, forecasting models, create a new disquiet and questions arise.
      What mood are the climatologists in? Like me, do they toss in their fears, too, just as vulnerable in the silence of the night? Is there hope in the models, even those on the fast track? Will spring always erupt in the brilliance of green or will it one day weep?
      Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University climatologist, reports that changes in parameters like temperature, sea levels and carbon emissions have occurred ahead of the best projections. All time global temperatures have risen for the last three consecutive years. Both the North and South Pacific regions have experienced one of their strongest cyclones in the last year and a half. Tropical cyclone expert Dr Phil Klotzbach reported in Di Liberto on 5 May 2017, that tropical storm, Donna, was the strongest May cyclone on record for the entire Southern Hemisphere.
      And the West Antarctic ice sheet is on the brink of collapse, which in turn would destroy the ice shelf, creating a rise in the sea level of ten to twelve feet. This would be catastrophic for coastal life in Australia and New Zealand. When our overheated earth, now a greenhouse with only modest ventilation, threatens all living things with heat waves five times more likely to occur and portions of the Western Antarctica ice sheet due to collapse, what would help create change?
      The new Climate Assessment report now predicts, too, that the future of our world is truly threatened by climate change and a shift to extreme weather events. Produced by thirteen federal agencies, the scientific report predicts dire consequences to health, global food stores, economics, damage to infrastructures, and mental health. Of greatest concern, the pace of the changes to our climate that have occurred since the last report in 2014.

~~~

I recently discovered the word, krummholz in Barry Lopez’s book, Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape. The crooked, gnarled wood lives in the transition zone between sub-alpine and treeless tundra, pressed by extreme vagaries of weather and physical circumstance. It survives at its environmental limit, its growth slow and irregular, windward branches failing to develop, but it remains a survivor, an elfin tree seeking low lying growth, intertwining, fortifying, and strengthening its hold. I weighed the question: as the extreme vagaries of weather create extreme circumstance for mankind, can we maintain survival at some future environmental limit?
      Laurence Gonzales, writing in, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Dies, and Why, explores, with the help of science and story, how and why certain individuals survive, whether in the wilderness or in facing any of life’s challenges. From stories of those who survived, they did so by keeping their wits about them and seeing the world, the situation at hand, as it is. They didn’t protest the situation. They worked with the reality of their condition, their plight, the scene as it was, one in which they needed to survive.
      Mann believes there’s hope if we look at history. When we do, science and honesty prevail. When society delayed acting on the issues of tobacco, ozone depletion, and the banning of chlorofluorocarbons, and lives were lost and damaged, we did eventually take appropriate action. So, I look for hope.
      After the signing of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015 by 195 countries, Norway agreed to ban all sales of gas and diesel-powered cars by 2035 and France has pledged to eliminate coal in the production of electricity after 2022. In addition, the Dutch government has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030.
      According to recent reporting from National Geographic, China is focusing on renewables: wind, solar, and hydropower; Germany currently generates twenty-seven percent of their electricity from renewables driven by their commitment to reduce nuclear energy use; and with America’s Clean Power Plan, the United States will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by thirty-two percent by 2030 and produce thirty percent more renewable energy.
      In the middle of my nights, when I lay awake with restless climatologists, I still wonder, if the largest contributors to carbon emissions do not take effective action, what can I do to tame rowdy rains and winds, and polar bears looking for safe passage over a dwindling ice cap? Will my small efforts to recycle and reduce my carbon footprint, along with larger renewable energy programs and clean air plans worldwide, be part of civilization’s cooperative sculpting of a simplified but survivable existence, just like the intertwining of the crooked and gnarled krummholz wood?

~~~

The unanswerable. The unknown.

~~~

I’m reminded of the movie, Life is Beautiful. Set during World War II, it tells the story of a father and his young son’s internment in a Nazi concentration camp. As the threat of death hovers each day, the young boy’s father creates an illusion of their life, a slight of hand in the movements of the small freedoms they both have. Guido, the father, tells his son, Giosuè he must perform certain tasks and with each task completed he will earn points towards a tank, a tank that would rescue them. As they lived each day, Guido was a joyful, magical mime for his son in the dysphoric scene.
      While I don’t wish to deny the reality of the changes in the climate, I feel the need to live with hope. So, as I place faith in science and technology to create a sustainable and viable transition zone where extreme vagaries of physical circumstance threaten our survival, I will also remember the inspiration of Guido, the joy in daily living, the mime he embraced so his young son would live each day free from worry and fear. AQ

Greg S. Johnson – Caprice

Greg S. Johnson
Caprice

The man, not yet as white-haired as most would remember him, put a hand through his unruly mop of frizzled hair and scanned the surface of Lac Léman. He could not detect a single ripple of movement all the way across to the French side; it was a mirror of the flawless blue sky. The late August sun, creeping over the tree line, warmed his cheeks. He closed his eyes.
      He sat near the end of a long stone jetty covered in gull dung, its mid-point crook skeletal and akimbo. With little effort he could still remember the first day he set foot in Geneva. Those pinching, patent leather shoes he wore and how each step down the cobblestone streets made him wince and hop as if on the coals of a firewalker. Holding the hand of his father—who must have been younger than he was now, but who seemed ageless and towering and invincible at the time—they made their way through Old Town to find a bakery. His father, looking down at him through his pince-nez, scolded him for jumping about like a monkey.
      A woman of about sixty approached and stood in front of him blocking the sun: ‘Loafing about again, I see.’
      ‘Bonjour, Professor,’ he said, opening his eyes and squinting to get a better look at her. ‘That’s all the French you’ll get from me. The whole of France shudders when I try to say even a few words. How long has it been, liebe?’
      Marie shrugged. ‘A year, perhaps more?’ She nodded toward the wooden sloop tied to the stone jetty. ‘This is yours, Professor?’
      She helped him to his feet. Her features were as stony as he remembered them: high forehead, blunt nose, lapis blue eyes that pierced falsehood like a needle through skin.
      ‘A pocket cruiser as these boating types say.’
      ‘Splendide! And the wood, what is it?’
      ‘Mahogany,’ Albert beamed.
      ‘It seems to me you are now one of these boating types yourself.’
      ‘They say there is an eternal arc to sailing, unfortunately I fear I’m a parabolic projectile launched into this strange, new world.’
      ‘And modest, non?’ she said.       ‘Alors…where do you want this?’ She pointed to a large, finely embroidered carpetbag at her feet.
      Tugging on the stern line, he brought the sloop close enough to step into; he took her carpetbag, then nearly dropped it in the water it was so heavy.
      ‘You’re building a house later?’ he asked with a wry smile.
      After stowing her bag below deck, he let his gaze fall across the lake well to the south. Toward Geneva he saw a few ripples across the still surface. He looked up at the black vane atop the mast, which gave a slight twist.
      ‘There is not much wind just now, but it’s building, bit by bit. I think we can sail toward Chateau d’Yvoire on the French side.’
      ‘I’m in your hands, Capitaine.’
      ‘And I yours,’ he said, taking her hands and pulling her toward him into the cockpit. He rubbed his thumbs over her fingers and noticed how rough they were. ‘You are smart to wear dungarees. Do you know much about this type of rigging? They call it Bermuda.’
      ‘Less than nothing, I’m afraid.’
      Marie eased herself onto one of the two parallel cockpit benches that stretched from the cabin to the stern.
      Out on the bow he grabbed a line and brought it back to the cockpit. She watched him move smartly around the mast and straighten the rigging there.
      ‘Your enthusiasm…it’s almost contagious,’ she said.
      He raised the main sail with steady hand-over-hand tugs of the halyard. Once secured, he repositioned himself at the helm and with some luck was able to catch enough of a south-southwest breeze to move them free of the jetty.
      ‘Have a go at the helm?’ he asked with a wink.
      ‘Would you like me to crash us into anything particular?’ Marie said, tilting a shoulder back to look at him. Often her face had the countenance of a statue so that when she smiled it was like sunshine peaking from under a dark cloud.
      Albert laughed. “Here, come, let me show you.”
      She slid into the helmsman’s seat, and he guided her hand onto the tiller. Her hands were large for a woman’s, but her knuckles were delicate as the nested heads of baby birds. Mottled with coppery spots and sores, they were the hands of an elderly woman.
      Albert was surprised at how the wind had jotted up since they left the jetty. With a nod to Marie, he raised the foresail and watched it ripple, cobra-like up the forestay. The stiff breeze grabbed the white sailcloth of the main and foresail with such force that he had to ease the main sheet a bit to keep from heeling too far over. The wind was building almost to ten knots, which gave him plenty of lift, and he moved out on a reach that put them on a gliding line toward the distant beach at Hermance.
      Albert leaned his back out over the water, hand once again on the tiller. He breathed in deeply, the uneven wind slapping his face then backing off, pushing then retreating. He looked around at the worn green hills and ashen cliffs that unfolded into this drowning pool of long retreated glaciers. How similar it must have looked to those early nomadic tribes, centuries ago, with their embers alight on the shores. Long before there was a Geneva. Long before those same tribes were forced to bow to Caesar.
      ‘Hungry?’ Marie asked.
      ‘I had nothing this morning. Sometimes eating is such…mühe.’
      ‘Come visit me in Paris. I’ll feed you chocolat and croissant, beef, and shellfish. You’ll shed your ambivalence.’
      Off the bow to port he saw the foresail going slack. Wiggling the tiller back and forth, he tried to bladder it, will the wind into it. He looked up to see that the main sail, too, hung like a wet sheet on a line. The bow turned slowly to starboard, into what had been the wind. They were now facing due south.
      ‘Take the helm again, bitte,’ he said, and crept out toward the bow. The drop in the wind made the boat unstable, and he had to steady himself against the side of the cabin as he went. Gaining the bow, he grabbed the jib and luffed it a few times. They had moved too close to shore, and they were trapped in a windless calm, blocked by the mountains he had been admiring.
      ‘We seem to have stopped, haven’t we?’ she said.
      Leaning out, he grabbed hold of the foresail and gave it a few shakes. Albert tried to lure a pocket of wind into it. His right foot slid out from beneath him, and he clutched the forestay just in time to keep from tumbling in.
      ‘Are you all right?’ Marie called.
      Albert struggled to get his breathing under control as he stared down into the black water. He cursed his stupidity for never learning to swim.
      ‘Here, come and eat,’ she said, hauling her violet and crimson carpetbag out from below deck. ‘It’ll do you some good.’
      From the bag she removed several pears, a few apples, some Brie, and a baguette. With an adept touch she sliced the bread and spread the cheese across several pieces.
      He ate all that was offered.
      ‘I suppose we can always use the auxiliary,’ she said, taking a bite of sweet pear. The juice dripped onto her fingers and she fluttered them over the water.
      Smoothing his bushy moustache from the center outward, he scanned the southeast shore, the lush, green hills past Chens-sur-Léman. His eyebrows coiled.
      ‘We can start the auxiliary, non?’ she asked, curious.
      ‘Perhaps not.’
      ‘Pourquoi?’
      ‘No fuel.’
      ‘Did you forget?’
      ‘No, I didn’t forget. To hell with them!’ Albert’s face turned red. ‘They are noisy… abominations! They destroy the beauty of all of this,’ he gestured with his arms to the surrounding water. ‘The peace and the solitude and the…the quiet.’
      Marie sat like a statue for a few moments and then couldn’t control it any longer. She put a sudden hand over her mouth and failed to stifle a laugh.
      ‘Funny, yes!?’
      Albert looked like a child staring into the abyss of a fractured toy.
      ‘Non…non, Je…’ she said, sitting up straighter. ‘Oh, my dear, Je suis désolé. I didn’t mean to insult you.’
      He shook his head and took a deep breath of fresh summer air. ‘It’s fine. Nichts. Nichts.’
      ‘Here, give me.’ She folded both her hands around one of his.
      With his other hand he traced one of the large, damaged circles on her hand. ‘What’s happened here?’ he asked.
      ‘Nichts.’ She dropped his hand and looked away. Somewhere deep within, she knew it was the pitchblende, the metallic rock of radium and polonium that she had worked with for so many years.
      Some swimmers bravely danced into the water at the beach in the distance and then came dancing right back out again.
      ‘Tell me, ’ he insisted.
      ‘Nothing I need to worry about. No one cares about these…ugly things.’ She turned back toward him showing her palms. Her heavy-lidded yet startling blue eyes caught him cold. ‘Certainly not you.’
      Her gnarled hands trembled.
      ‘Did I do something? Say something?’
      ‘You won’t recall,’ Marie said. She rummaged through her bag, and in a few seconds pulled free a green bottle of wine. ‘When I told my friend Jacques about my sail with you today, he recommended this Beaujolais from a nearby vineyard.’
      He looked at her in profile. Marie’s hair was a kinetic knot bunched up on the top of her head. It shielded the massive bluff of her determined forehead.
      ‘I don’t care for wine,’ he said.
      Marie continued as if his voice was a stray puff of wind. She put the bottle between her legs and worked at freeing the cork with a pocketknife. ‘Do you remember that hike we took in the Alps some years back, me with the girls and you with your son?’
      He shrugged. ‘Of course. We hiked for hours. It was a beautiful day.’
      ‘I thought so, too. But then I overheard something from a friend who was at one of your cocktail parties.’
      He closed his eyes, sniffed for a breeze. ‘Marie, it was so long ago.’
      ‘Alors, you do remember. Tell me.’
      Albert’s brown eyes sprang open, alive and furious. ‘What difference does it make!?’
      ‘You said, ‘She’s very intelligent, but has the soul of a herring.’
      ‘I did not!’ He stood up but nearly fell over backward. He grabbed the boom to steady himself.
      ‘What did you say then?’ Her lips were pursed, seething.
      ‘I couldn’t have said that.’ Albert pondered the deck of the cockpit where one of the slats was cracked. It would need to be replaced before winter came.
      ‘It makes no difference to you,’ Marie said. ‘Because you don’t have to care. How easily the conqueror embraces ambivalence.’
      ‘I’m afraid my wives have often bullied me for my temperamental tongue. It was some time ago. I’m sure I thought I was being funny at the time. You’ve always impressed me with your strength of character and your…tenacity.’
      ‘Alors…flatterie? Non?’
      ‘It’s so long past, Marie.’
      ‘Wars have been fought for less.’
      As they drifted closer to the French shore, the calls of the gulls became more distinct and defiant. The jangle of the halyards and the tiny slaps of water against the sides of the wooden sloop made the silence even more galling.
      ‘I don’t suppose you have any glassware?’ she said, nodding to the suddenly open bottle of Beaujolais between her legs.
      They both laughed.
      ‘Let me look,’ he said.
      ‘Don’t bother.’ Marie tilted the bottle back and took a healthy swig. She wiped a red bit of wine away with the back of her hand. ‘Mmmm. Demi sec. Try some.’ She held out the bottle, but he stared at it, unmoving.
      On the morning of that hike, along the trail, her daughter was continually tripping over her hiking boots, and the laces were knotted like cobwebs. Marie pulled a knife from her satchel then used it to rip through the knot and re-string her daughter’s boots. There was no head patting, no ‘there, there, child’; she was matter-of-fact, quick to the point and resolute. After all these years, that was the most prominent memory of their hike. He shook his head as if to wipe it away.
      ‘It won’t bite you, mon ami,’ Marie said, finally.
      Albert took the bottle and looked at the label, then gulped a quick shot.
      They passed the bottle back and forth and listened to the rhythmic slapping of the water below and the halyards in the mast above. The air warmed as the sun reached its apex.
      Marie finished the last of the Beaujolais and set the bottle on the deck of the cockpit. She rubbed her hands together.
      ‘Oh, Albert, we’re as stuck in ourselves as we are in this boat,’ she said.
      He moved closer and attempted to settle an arm around her.
      She tilted away.
      ‘I don’t understand you,’ he said.
      ‘What is it about men that makes them unforgiveable when they won’t see the most basic thing there is? The most…oh, sacrebleu! Forget it. Just…’ She shook her head, closed her eyes.
      Albert stared up at the top of the mast; a feeble breeze fluttered the vane there. He looked again at the sole of the cockpit. He gazed across the flat water of the lake. Without looking at her, he reached for her hands. They were clammy and cold. He massaged them. Staring across the sun-dappled water, back toward the jetty they somehow needed to reach, he stumbled over a few words. A pained expression told him he was still far off, and then, as with a breeze that can build out of the clear blue, rippling the water as it takes on momentum, he regained his balance, braced himself, swallowed hard on his pride and offered her the apology so long deferred.       AQ

Christopher Moore – Rain

Christopher Moore
Rain

It wasn’t taking time to rain. That’s how his Gran would have put it.
      Really, there shouldn’t have been anyone left in the park at all. The downpour had reached relentless levels, puddles littering the ground like shimmering mirrors, reflecting back an ashen sky that might once have been more colourful, that might once have been shades of azure or royal blue or brilliant red, or even wisps of white, but he could scarcely remember it now. Could scarcely remember a time the world hadn’t been grey.
      But, there were people left. A group of kids, playing and yelping excitedly about a hundred metres away, splashing about in little coats and boots, and sending blue paper boats on voyages across some of the larger puddles, their youthful imaginations probably able to picture the miniature lakes before them as vast expanses of ocean. Shrieking and jumping with delight, as though taking innocent pleasure from every moment of the shower.
      And then, there was him. Sitting watching them, all but pinned to the bench now with the water soaked through to his skin, the fabric of his trousers stuck to the sodden wood like glue. Every remaining bit of logic at the back of his mind screaming for him to move, to get up, to get to somewhere dry.
      But, he didn’t.
      It wasn’t taking time to rain. Yes. His Gran would have said that.
      But, the cancer had certainly taken its time. Taken more time than anyone should ever have to endure, to suffer.
      And his mind had taken its time ever since to find the will to do very much of anything at all.
      Today was no different.      AQ

Carolyn Adams – A Frequent Winter Chill

Carolyn Adams
A Frequent Winter Chill

I’m not from a land of snow.
Where I’m from, you’re lucky
to hit freezing twice a year.

I don’t know the great loneliness
that sets in, mid-winter,
when the outside is only
a long monotone.

I don’t know the struggle
navigating drifts,
pushing aside boughs
heavy with stones of cold.

Now, in these lovely wilderness valleys,
there’s a flurry sometimes,
and a frequent winter chill.

When snowflakes fill the woods
with soft ash, when they float
in a tremour of white wings.

Crunching on ice, glad for my boots
on a day like this, I love
the bone-shiver in the air,
the vast silences,
the lace and blades
contouring trees and underbrush.

I love long walks
in the deep alone.

Linda McCauley Freeman – The Sun is Not Any Closer Today

Linda McCauley Freeman
The Sun is Not Any Closer Today

But all layers shielding us have evaporated.
We wear dark goggles and special hooded
suncoats when we must go outside.
The grass is long gone, only a memory
of green. Underground tunnels connect
us to our neighbours. The subway carts
us downtown where subterranean shops
cluster. My grandmother has photos
of trees and hills dotted with glorious
wildflowers. She says she grew up
among them.

Despy Boutris – Self-Portrait as Smoke and Flames

Despy Boutris
Self-Portrait as Smoke and Flames

Fire turns the sky sepia. Grass fades
into summer hues. Bees hum around their hive.
The winding road is spattered
with raccoon guts. Disemboweled and skeletal
as the burning branches, as the smoke
shaping into soldiers behind the hills. Miles away,
I watch them lift their swords. Watch this fight
turn deadly—smoke and flames defeating
decay. The smoke billows up from fallen trees,
encircles the sun like a citrus peel.
And the orchard glows golden in this light,
so the soiled plums underfoot look like blots
of dried blood. These smoke tendrils
hover overhead like the bee-swarm,
or like the time I trampled an anthill, watched
the ants erupt like hot lava over my bare feet.
What’s left of the trees? What’s left of the dry grass,
the tumbleweeds? And the barn in Bear Valley,
the one I once helped paint white, bleaching
its planks under the summer sun,
back before the city council realized we needed
to cull all the old trees from these woods,
the woodsmoke staining this world amber.
There’s so much smoke spreading, swallowing
up what moisture remains. How long it’s been
since the last rain. And I want to be this fire: free
to rise like the smoke above. Flames burning
long and bright enough to kill off the old.

Brittney Corrigan – Weather Patterns

Brittney Corrigan
Weather Patterns

Here, where Oregon’s winter is
consistent and predictable, like a bowl
of rice set at the table for every meal,
all that is needed is to part the curtain
slightly or extend an upturned palm
into the day. So each morning I check
the weather in other places instead –
landscapes that hold the people I love.
Colorado, where one day might crest
with snow and the next stream with sun.
Where clouds rise off the mountains like
steam, and wind talks through the aspen
as it rushes down the foothills to run
through the tawny, dry grass.
Orcas Island, volcano-made, tucked
into its rain shadow, buoys up
my family in cool salt air.
Soft waves slap the ferry landing as if
greeting a friend; cormorants stretch
their wings into slantwise sun.
And Michigan, adrift with flurries,
hunkers my relatives under ice.
They rub palms together, blow their
secrets into cupped hands, place
fingers on each others’ cheeks
to ease the chill, melt what’s frozen.
Knowing all this makes the grey centre
of winter, the distance of those I love,
almost bearable. Somewhere, a snowflake
balances on the cuff of a coat, orients
itself like a compass in my direction:
the symmetry, the patterns, the dark spot
it will leave when it goes.

Bill Glose – I Never Know When It’s Going to Rain

Bill Glose
I Never Know When It’s Going to Rain

My eyes in REM
with whimsy of dreams

while my girlfriend stays up
to watch a meteorologist

beside a map of swirling Rorschachs,
divining the next day’s weather

like tea leaves in the bottom of a cup.
Each night she watches local news,

tiny terrors magnified and given teeth
then tucked beside her as she tries

to fall asleep. In daylight, she shakes
her head at my choice of wardrobe,

the way I dress each day according
to the day before. Cold snaps

and heat waves catch me off guard.
I step into each like a punch-drunk

fighter offering up his chin.
If it rains, I get wet and she laughs.

But most days she studies me
like a kid pressed against

a toy store’s display window.
You don’t know how lucky you are,

she says from beneath her umbrella.
And what can I do but crowd in

beside her as cascading drops
thrum on the fabric—

for her a confirmation,
for me the drumbeat of surprise.

Amlanjyoti Goswami – At the butcher’s

Amlanjyoti Goswami
At the butcher’s

I can smell rain, mutters the butcher
Cleaving the shoulder.
Does rain have a smell, asks the younger man,
Learning the ropes.
Where you make the incisions, where the
First chop must fall.

Yes, the wet earth, I step into
The conversation, a stranger to the ways of knife and blow.
The fragrance of earth, he remembers,
As one more deft stroke
Cuts to the skin of the matter,
As the flow dyes the wooden block,
A shade darker.

We wait patient in the shadows, for umbrellas
To spring to life.
This dead afternoon quiet, where ants prowl lonely,
And flowers stay thirsty.
This dry blaze of May
Rain far as Marrakesh, or Persia.

But he felt it, that is true, as he cut deeper
Into cloud, poking the open blue,
Reaching the emptiness from which all things must spring,
Rain coming, soon,
and filling our borders with music.