Poem-A-Day: Carol Louise Munn

The weather in Houston has been somewhat typical for 21st-century April around here. Winter is generally over, but about once a week we’re getting serious cold fronts coming through on the coattails of spectacular thunderstorms. They wake us from slumber then rock us back to sleep, and in the morning we have to dig our coats back out for the morning commute. A day or two later, perhaps after what feels like one last fire in the fireplace, there’s not a cloud in the sky and the temps are trending warmish, the breezes feel glorious, and I’m excited about our weather for just a little while.

I try to savor these days. Sometimes I go out dressed not quite warmly enough just so I can appreciate the cold one last time before the heat sets in. Come summer, it will oh it will. I think the gardening industry is going to have to create a new zone for us. I don’t think zone 9 or 10 really can capture how it gets here in July and August.

***

Severity

What we water in July may live
or may curl black onto one stalk
dark in the crisp ground.
So begins the middle of summer:
birds fighting over the birdbath,
bats flitting above the empty lot
next door. Morning Glories thin
on the vine, brown strings
tying the yellowed leaves
together. Only the oleander
thrives in drought.
Pink petals extend the length
of branched spires reaching
for sun. We wake early
for the respite before dawn
when we work outside
trimming visible death.
We live for morning when hot
coffee tastes good in our mouths.
The heat will rise like mountains
certain as the will to survive.

***

Carol Louise Munn teaches Creative Writing to adults at the Women’s Institute of Houston after a long career of teaching English and Creative Writing in schools and universities both in the U.S. and in Spain. She earned her MFA at the University of Michigan where she won an Academy of American Poets prize. She has been published in Poetry, Mutabilis Press, Houston Poetry Anthology, and other literary journals, and she presents Creative Writing workshops in several schools in Houston.

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