The time has come again for this town to be cleaned out.

All fall and winter we drink and soak,
outrunning the parch of cold wind
the suction of fake heat
that sly thief Alcohol who always lubricates before she swindles
the scratch of sweaters
the sap of squinting in so much false light.

We drink soup and scotch and tea, tea, tea,
drink for warmth, for the wetness,
for the light of a person across the table
on a dark afternoon,
for safe passage through this family gathering,
for something to hold in hand
because the weather won’t allow us to farm whatever it is we farm.
We grow restless in the dry dim
so we drink wet light.

We soak up the air as it tumbles on us,
running to the car and absorbing,
running from the car and dampening,
dragging the trash into the alley
trailing the dog around the block
we’re infused with the sea loosed from the sky

and after two months we’re full

we drink more (freely) and we soak more (unwillingly)
soon overfull
soon squishy
soon heavy
soon dark and sour

Gradually, there is less to receive, progressively,
less to need.
More light perforates, complementing with warmth
and we go outside without dashing or groans.
We take up our tools and put down our bottles, cans, cups.

The sun rewards our stirring and begins jabbing
puncturing the spongey grey
like it has something to prove.

Our dampness heats up
and we threaten putrescence –
trapped on the knife edge of
becoming swamp things, all festering swelter
with nowhere to release.

We are helpless to dispose of all we have drunk and soaked.

Our sun saves us annually, our self-luminous messiah.
It builds a kiln and we sludge forth toward it
dragging trails of slime,
weighed down with months of cold darkness
and that blackgreen fur materializing
in our folds.

The sun calls silently.
It unfolds its huge self, noiseless,
and we feel the beckoning even
in our musty, shadowed corners.
We turn like flowers, glide like mindless insects,
open our arms
and begin to bake.

It’s dry,
and warm at first- just a glow that takes hold
then a heat turned up fast and steady,
running parallel to our need.

We are lizards on rocks,
dogs, sprawled on concrete, half comatose and
blissed out, panting to the beat.
Our reservoirs begin to evaporate,
the damp turns stiff
and the sour fuzz shrivels.
We begin to burnish: less greenish
and more like clay,
the sallow, underbelly white of too
long in the dark
suddenly incandesces pink
and then eases into an ochre for some
fawn for others
all of us burning away the heaviness,
refining what remains;
holding the flavors we collected all
fall and winter
and shedding what cannot tolerate this new mercury.

We glow and crackle
blasted yes scorched,
but lighter, lighter,
nimble of frame and mind to outeverything
the competition,
our selves baked in to ourselves.

By the end we are too dry,
limp from it all
lame from standing too long in the glare
lost from our charge
and desperate for a drink and a soak,

but we have left prints behind us:
we pressed our work into the drying earth
and it hardened thusly.
Another summer: we have done it.
Let the record show.