Found Object: Heat

This post was originally published at Peachleaves blog.

So it’s hot and gritty in Philadelphia, the kind of summer in which I seem to be swimming to work, because I arrive slightly damp and tired as though all of my limbs have been resisting warm water.  (I still eat lunch outside though.  It’s preferable to day-long deep-freeze.)

After work I thought I might have a drink with a coworker, but that didn’t work out, so I swam down Fairmount to a bookstore.  I didn’t have anything in mind while I perused, but two perfect suggestions literally fell off the shelf into my hands: Paint It Today and Kora and Ka by H.D.  If I were inclined to be mystical, I would consider this more than a windfall: H.D. is one of the poets I’ve wanted to write about forever, and will! but I’ve been so aimless this summer, yearning toward all my various writing goals but too overwhelmed by them all to focus.  A little used-bookstore serendipity is exactly the kind of nudge I needed.

Paint It Today had been inscribed back in ’93 with a Merry Christmas message, which I liked; these books are reprinted infrequently, and some literary nerd snapped this book up not long after its feminist-reclamation release and gifted it to her favorite H.D. enthusiast.  On the title page, someone else had copied down another H.D. poem called “Heat”:

O wind,
rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air
that pushes up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat-
plow through it
turning it on either side
of your path.

Beneath that,  the same hand had added:

(oh well)


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