Excessive Heat Warning


Middle of the Night.   I love whims. A day spent asleep makes for a night full of wild ambitions. The morning news cycle has already started. It started yesterday. It started months ago. It all ended two years ago. Now I’m startled by crunching leaves. My heart pounds at voices I’ve never heard before. I’m terrorized by my own hair brushing my arm. These feelings always pass. Even my lack of feelings will blow away on the desert winds eventually. I may never be whole again, but at least I have hope that tomorrow I can hold my broken pieces together better.


Fusion.   I become amber waves in a golden field, squinting into the sun. I focus on blue hues when I pick a focal point. I want what’s gentle on the eyes.

I used to spend a long time looking for fields of tulips as a child. Everyone told me that Michigan was filled with tulips. Another rumor. Like how the big, bronze Joe Louis statue downtown came alive on certain nights. People said he would jog around the city, faux boxing, climbing stairs at full speed like Rocky Balboa. I didn’t believe it. Same way I don’t believe this summer’s end is near.

I never found the tulip fields. I once read a picture book about two children in Holland who wore wooden clogs and passed windmills on their walk to school. Their watercolor village was surrounded with crimson tulip fields. That would have to be close enough for me.


Lunch break.   Today’s heat is stifling. One step out into the blazing light and I find myself waiting too long for a breeze to save me. Minutes pass with no relief. It’s too hot for skin. I start to wonder if this is really what hell feels like. I hope the dude in the corner with the hair who’s being rude to the waitress goes straight there if it exists. I hope his tongue swells from dehydration so he can never make a woman feel so cornered and edgy again. The menu holds a lot of flavors but they all conflict with my feeling of emptiness. The exotic isn’t filling. I get sucked into the muted sports channel. I attempt to read lips. New age reggae pumps from concealed Muzak speakers. I’ve already burned my hand on the door handle. Now I’ll burn my tongue while eating because I can’t get out of this place fast enough.


Combustion.   I present myself to the outside and the eyes are harsh, scrutinizing. It’s only the sun. The rays dappling the yard form phantom figures of past critics. I find myself wanting to cover more of myself. It’s too hot for that though. The air covers my bare arms and legs like a sweater. There is no way to peel away the sticky film covering acquired by just a few moments soaking in the UV dangers.

I stare at an odd shaped scar on my thigh. This one was an accident. I can’t say the same for many of my others. I have unanswered emails. I have a deadline. I have lack of interest. Minimal energy. A friend informed me earlier that it was too hot for planes to fly so escape isn’t even an option.

Not that I’d want to. I’m perfectly cozy in my apartment which I keep meat locker cold. I long for a dead of winter night. I pray for a blackout and for the stars to shine through layers of pollutants so they can guide me home like they did my ancestors years ago.

But for now, I squint at the light. I sweat. I am mindful of time spent. I am keeping cool.


Synchronicities.   Novels with poetic quality line up with the perfect folk song. The birds stay silent because they’re absorbing it all too. They see how the stars are doing their thing to signal the solstice. They’re confused by the extra time the sun gets to play.

The weather report says that the area I live in is under a heat dome. I used to write of fire, speak of fire, and feel fire under my skin long before this sweltering suffering settled upon us. I still find myself saying things out loud, and then some actor says them on TV in something I’ve never watched before. People are wearing what I’ve seen them wearing in dreams.

I feel a thread of connection every time this happens. When it’s all so perfect that I can only expect to have my foundation shaken. (Of course, it’s never really perfect. I just force my perception to see it that way.) This is good because I’m often afraid that I will become so much like ash that my whole being will blow away on the desert winds. And yet, I don’t fear the idea of never existing.

It’s too hot for these thoughts. It’s too hot to breathe. Thankfully, no inferno is so unbearable that it doesn’t welcome a precious release.


© Jennifer Patino (2017-2018)



3 Comments Add yours

  1. Nitin says:

    So many terrific images here. I especially liked how the air covers you like a sweater and meat locker cold. Brilliant writing Jennifer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Nitin. 😊👍

      Liked by 1 person

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