A Known Fact

You could smell the day’s heat even before the day began. 
Constant trickle, endless green trees flanking the highway: 
summer had come back. Scattered trash 
on the apartment landing. Everyone passed by it. Everyone felt
it belonged to someone else. 

Grey fog, blue sunlight, stones like big footprints
in a wavering line across a lawn.
Everyone was talking about a new song 
in relation to the old: the same volume
but with no feeling. Standing on the porch 
just before the drizzle, 
fiercely missing my sister, how we used to take the bag 
of cut grass from the lawnmower 
and empty it over our bodies like rain.  

Days lost between the clock and my phone: I made coffee,
I brushed the cat, I went to work, I knew the time it took
to go from one room to another 
to collect my ironed shirt. I kept looking back 
to isolate individual moments, asking why
didn’t I give myself more fully to that 
friend, that stranger, that drinking, those
days. I remembered Kira and Chicago, 
leaving our apartment in the middle of the night, so hot even the moon 
looked hurt. I watched a chained dog strain
at every passerby. I thought, it must be hard
to have that much desire. 

Meanwhile, I’d gotten older. I’d grown 
accustomed to my body. 
I could sit with my shirt off
on a hot day and not think about
how my body looked 
or how I felt inside it. 
Cutting my hair the barber said, 
heat rises, that’s a known fact.
I liked her phrasing. I walked forever.
I was trying not to revise history
to make my present life
make sense. Raised voices; faded t-shirts
left in boxes on the street. 
Such strange intimacies. 
The telephones ringing 
in the houses as I passed. 

Copyright © 2019 Grady Chambers. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.