ANOTHER DEFINITION OF DROUGHT, LATE SUMMER
The sky must break open and pour sometime,
my neighbor says. A crown of duck down
sticks to the sweat and blood on his forehead,
feathers twist and gather at his boots. The dead
cottonwood does not sway above his pile
of coots with cloud-still eyes, blemish of gnats.
At night I mistake his daughter playing with a Zippo
in the thigh high grass for dry lightning. She's learning
to turn herself into flame's lure, so she can teach
all those moth-boys at school a new definition
for heat. This is why I've set my sprinklers
to do their chore at midnight. Why I continue
to sit here, the hose a coil of guts at my feet,
night after night, watching the sparks, and listening
to a throaty, elastic bird call I've heard nowhere else
rising from the desert wet lands to echo
through the cleaned cavity of me and remind
me of how much of this world I cannot name.
Lindsay Wilson, an English professor in Reno, Nevada, co-edits The Meadow. His first collection, No Elegies, won the Quercus Review Press Spring Book Award, and his poetry has appeared in The Bellevue Literary Review, Verse Daily, and The Minnesota review. He serves on the Nevada Writers' Hall of Fame Selection Committee.