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Nancy McAllister


Warm as a cat's back
smooth as a swept dune
smells like a woodstove
all heat
sap sunk to the core
years ago a hot nail
drove deep


Cares drop like clothes.
Needs become few.
We have the short list of youth,
as we eat a slow supper on the porch,
or turn on our bedroom light
to swat mosquitos drunk on citronella,
or open the windows to the rising of green dawns.
Summer gets inside me like no words do.
In the stretched days
our skins shine damply,
their own warmth rises,
and I think that surely all has been summer
that love will last
that we will never live hunched and dry.
I have always worn sandals and a loose cotton skirt.
Your toes have always been as bare and strong as fingers.


There, the houses burn like matchbooks
Flashing windrush to the sea's black surf
Turning the palisades to crumbling soot
Compromise consumed in arid raging
Here, a path of leaves all gently
Laid by rain from trees wet
Redly gleaming days of promise
Dahlias loose heads leaning toward arrangement

Copyright 1999 by Nancy McAllister

Contributor's Note