July brings a particular kind of heat
that sweats the streets and buckles your feet
against the concrete edges of sintering sidewalks
set way below the ledges of tall brick and stone buildings
that block the breeze and bring the city to its knees
praying for some sort of relief.
The sun seethes the surface of asphalt parking lots:
black, blistering blotches snatching at pressing tires
and still simmering in the settling dusk
as the sun slips into the western husk of the prairied earth.
It rises on mornings so heavy with humidity
that it feels like ninety at seven in the morning.
Dew settles so thick on every blade and bush
that shoes and britches soak through in two minutes
of walking through pasture.
By mid-morning, moving from shade
into the shaved fields of wheat
or just-baled acres of hay
flushes the whole body with rising heat
as if you’d just walked into an un-domed kiln.
Some nights, you can see lightning flashing
from eighty miles away
and know that somewhere—
way off to the north by northeast,
probably up between Council Grove and Topeka,
they’re getting rain and maybe high winds and hail
and you pray for only the rain part
and hope that the unfailing grace of God
will soften the sod
and bring both peace and rain
into the heat-splintered heart of the city.
And your own, as well.