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heat lightning






In the distance the summer heat lightning
flashes over the mountains, angry and irritable,
unable to find release for its agitation,
seeking, but not finding, promised rain,
the purging that would wash the dust
and the heat from the heavy night sky.
But the air is silent. No sound, no sharp
crackling thunder announces the approach
of relief, and so it continues to wander a path
across the purple-black night seeking,
ever seeking, its liberation.

And in the depths of my soul I feel it, in the pit
of my stomach like a balled-up fist thrust hard
below my ribs, for I, too, have no voice to give
words to my raging emotions, my entombed desires.
To even quietly breathe out my thoughts
would seem sacrilegious, heretical,
to whisper them to the dark, blasphemous.

I despair of finding the deliverance
of my own soul, not because I fear
the ablution that might come, but because,
unlike the storm that finds its consummation
in its downpour spending its wrath upon the earth
then fading away to a fresh, new dawn, I fear
the ensuing darkness of the necessary sacrifice
of my deepest longings to the need to preserve
the only life it seems possible for me to live here.

And so I turn my face to the west, to where the fire
lights the sky in exasperated exclamation points
and draw from it the strength to continue my journey
upon this earth with my dreams locked away inside
where they will remain harmless, fruitless, barren,
like the lightning on this scorching summer night.