Flood water drizzles away in the mid-Missouri heat of July,
mud hardens into adobe brick and the early morning dark olive
green sky is not full of dew, but resin and hard tack.
When the first breeze blows late morning, it is not
the dust of the earth that lifts itself into air,
but the dead of the earth – dead seeds, dead fall,
the dried out carcasses of crayfish and tulip lipped toads.
Suddenly the green grass is beard grizzled and graying,
the ants bring drying blood back to their queen,
large bees settle in the shade of a blossom and sleep.
Then, one afternoon, a cackle in the sky, the clouds
gather into bundles of storm and heat lightning.
When the rains come, everything moves out of the way.
Cracks in the clay eat what they can and the river
opens its huge mouth to take in everything else –
ants, bees, the dead wood congregating on the dying grass.
Then it is over and hotter and stiller and even a shift in weather
cannot rise all of the dead things decomposing into the air.
Michael H. Brownstein’s work has appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Convergence, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), and The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the admin for project Agent Orange (projectagentorange.com).