Deity of Heat

by Cheryl Wood Ruggiero

Late summer — she feels lazy.
Haze, her idle maundering, grays ridges,
edges horizons brown.
Yawn — her breath stokes
smoke from brush fires in the hollows,
mellows sun. She spills
milk, hot and white,
bright across the sky from her breasts,
rests her arm on noon so the iced glass sweats,
bets listlessly with imps of the electric grids,
bids on one to break.
Awake, she hums cicadas' fat green drone.
Alseep, she dreams far asphalt’s diesel groan.

Cheryl Wood Ruggiero writes in the green elder mountains of southwestern Virginia. She is the author of Troll Tales I-V: Holes, a short collection of stories featuring a troll named Botch (in spite of its nursery-tale character, not for children, with violent shadows and meditative moments). Her work has appeared recently in Goblin Fruit, Abyss & Apex, Luna Station Quarterly, Calyx, and South Carolina Review, as well as in her chapbook Old Woman at the Warm Spring.

Like most of her generation, schooled first in British classics, the word "cherry" brings to Cheryl's mind, immediately and inevitably, A. E. Housman's famed first line, "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now." The rest of the poem is pretty, about spring and youth, but the first line, because of the marvelous word "now," always makes her mind's eye pop with an image of one bright red fruit, a few golden freckles on one shoulder where the sun touches first on a summer morning.

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