Heat changes everything. Onions turn savory,
morning glory climbs, bread dough left under white
kitchen towels swells and rises. The warmth
of my husband’s arms at night changes the way I look
back on the day. Heat rising from quarrels can curl
the old photo on the wall—Edith picking huckleberries
plumped to perfect in August Dog Days.
On the farm heat meant life in summer, determined
whether the pump froze in winter.
Heat was her medium: apple pie, strawberry
jam, johnnycake. She’d carry sweet rolls
down the road to a daughter, truck blueberry buckle
to church socials. Heat ruled Edith’s
life. She read temperatures like tea leaves.
Were spring nights warm enough for seedlings?
Was the baby’s forehead so hot the doctor must come?
Years monitoring canning kettle,
wood stove, flatiron. And later, last warmth
creeping from Herbert’s hand that winter, when
all the firewood in the world was not enough.
Lynn Pattison’s poems have appeared in The Notre Dame Review, Rhino, Atlanta Review, Harpur Palate, Rattle and Poetry East, among others, and been anthologized in several venues. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, she is the author of three collections: tesla’s daughter (March St. Press, 2005); Walking Back the Cat (Bright Hill Press, 2006) and Light That Sounds Like Breaking (Mayapple Press, 2006). In past years, Pattison was awarded an Irving S. Gilmore Emerging Artist Grant through the local branch of the Michigan Arts Council, and a writing residency at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest IL. She lives and writes in Michigan.