by Anne Pinkerton


It’s the first night of fall,
and the city opens the hydrants.
Their silver caps shine under streetlights,
wrenches lodged on their top bolts, stiff appendages
pointing to something unknown in the distance.

It’s impossible not to think back
on your neighbor’s house, the one
devoured by flames while firefighters urgently
coaxed only a trickle of water.

The flushing, rushing into the streets,
even now is not a joyful spray —
like to cool the summer-heated skins of kids playing —
but a dark steady flow to remind you
of everything you can’t get back.

Witnessing such abundance after
a summer drought, water bans in effect,
suburban lawns browning in the heat,
seems a crime
you are loathe to confess.

Passing cars splash through the purge,
the excess pouring into a thin creek
running down the block, hugging the curb past your house,
rinsing out the gutter. Around the corner,
the storm drain, which you keep meaning to clear out, clogs,
your unfinished business pooling,
the glut cool and patient, clammy as regret.


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