Hanging Fire

Robin Robertson

The impatience for summer
is desire: ritual, imbedded
hard as a hinge
in the earth’s mesh.
From the papery bulb,
the spurred, flesh-green horn
pushes, straining for air;
flexes its distended,
perfect, cleft muscle
out and up through the crust.

Then the deeper sleep of August,
ninety degrees of hanging fire:
the yellow lawns, the blighted
flowerless trees, the malformed leaves
sticky with sarcoma; the only sound
the hot, rhythmic tick of tarmac.
The pigeon splays
and struts after his blushing bride,
drags his thickening tail
behind him through the dust

Once it comes
we want it over;
the need for heat
replaced by the anxiety for winter:
rain to wash it all away,
and frosts to kill it back –
to start again next spring
with that familiar pulse,
that stirring of old ground:
that ache we think is lust.