Score for a Hot Night in August
by Mary Jo Balistreri

In the tree house, a bamboo-ceiling fan recycles
limpid air, redolent of the river’s loamy soil.
Acorns bounce off shingles, hard and sharp like shots,
not so much disturbing as giving pause
like the red-tailed hawk perched on the oak’s outer limb.

Summer’s retardondo tints the yard even at its most lush, leaves,
green-thick but languid. Then like a click of a kaleidoscope,
spokes of late sun slant among shagbark and cherry.
They zigzag in the breeze like a child’s yellow crayon,
rays that bleed into manila paper.

At dusk, the slow-burning radius is gold nimbus
on grade school holy cards, shower of iridescence
falling from God’s shiny fingers as I once believed.
Vestiges of light shimmy up and down the glass feeder,
then disappear, a flame snuffed.

Darkness blooms in sound and scent:
deer riffling through hostas, raccoons clawing
among toppled trash. A skunk. Night jasmine, the basso ostinato
of crickets, and the pond splashing against the bank–
an intermezzo before the fall of dying leaves.


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