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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 65

IN THE HEAT OF SUMMER

The soupy days of tropical air
hanging over our suburb
have come early this year.

The only place to be is in the water—a cool lake
that remembers the snow it came from,
the ocean, or the Long Island Sound
slowly opening its mouth to the Atlantic
one hundred miles east.

I cannot reach any of these bodies.
Even though things are better in my region—
I worry. Might virus lurk
in a hotel hallway, or a booth
in a coffee shop? Maybe in the bed
of a rented house, or a ladies room?

I should have learned to drive my father’s motor boat.
The water in the Sound is probably cool right now.
As a girl, I didn’t have the nerve
to navigate the craft by myself—
I was afraid
I’d run aground, or shift too fast,
stripping the gears,
hitting the neighbor’s dock.

Now, like a dead bird,
the boat rests on a rack
in Dad’s back yard.
It’s been decades since he took the boat out
so the two of us could escape the hot land—
and swim in deep water that remembers spring—
sloshing and glistening
from Westchester to the North Shore.

  Jacqueline Coleman-Fried