matt pond PA

July 9, 2018

Heat Wave.

JULY 1, 2018.

The lights are off and it’s near dark. Early evening gray-blue keeps the windows alive until late, until the street lights take over, when headlamps animate shadow scenes, running back and forth over the walls, an elegant avant garde cinema.

The back of my neck is damp, sweating from scalp, down to the mane, soaked in with my shirt.

My appearance is in need of editing, but not for anyone else to examine or review.

These are intentional, functional, personal edits of a human being, trying to survive summer.

What I’m trying to say is that I think I just sold my imaginary Corvette.

JULY 2, 2018.

Plans drift in the dog days. Tomorrow fades into the future at awkwardly stuttering speeds, the flashing moments of a spark, the long hours, the listlessness, heat waves rising from the pavement.

Laid-back children laugh, sirens call from midtown, mourning doves murmuring in the building dusk, pure invocations of our hotness.

I was going to get it all done today. There is a path of muddy tracks leading through the kitchen, calling for a thorough cleansing of the mind and body.

These tasks were at the top of the dry-erase board list and yet they drift, walking all the way through the night, until tomorrow.

This living room is the sea and I am the withering sail conquering sleep in the swelter as plans continue to drift.

JULY 3, 2018.

The lazy passion of exaggerated actors is all around me. The postman poses, leaning against aluminium siding, wipes the sweat from his brow with heavy arms, hoping somebody sees. A middle-aged woman with both a boxer and an american bulldog stares at the sun and shakes her head disapprovingly, mouthing the simple mantra, “Damn you, damn you.” Two kids, writhing side-by-side behind a manual lawn mower, they’ve reached the limits of their insubordinate bodies, there’s nothing left for them to fake — we are entirely full of it.

They are all convincing in their roles. I know; I amateurishly embody myself doing the dishes, watering the garden, laundering my undergarments, rereading the same Murakami paragraph while the heat ties me to the couch and pulls me down into a startling nap.

I know myself best in the movies that whispered about summertime adventure, summertime lust, summertime freedom.

Do The Right Thing, American Graffiti, The Endless Summer, Stand By Me, Dazed and Confused, The Graduate, Rear Window, Jaws.

Kathleen Turner in Body Heat. I would’ve committed any crime just to be with her for a few moments inside the screen.

Late-night Interlude Part 1.

The humidity won’t break. It is an inescapable liquid.

There is a twist. Liquid is also the only answer. I have done it all:

The bodies of water follow one another like supernatural grades. Each jumping through to the next ring of maturity. Pond, pool, stream, lake, sea. Somehow, I graduated this portion of spirit school.

Hoses worked when our families would congregate in Greenbank, West Virginia, when water moccasins were seen slithering in the creeks, everybody shrieked and clawed back up the banks.

Aunts and uncles, the amateur firefighters, sipping beer and spraying everyone, making sure it stung as much as much as it cooled. We’d dry off in the stuffy cabins that were canning pantries the rest of the year, lingering scents of dill, pepper, grass, laughing as we fell asleep to a Steve Martin LP. Half Lit and unsarcastically happy.

JULY 4, 2018.

The above-ground pool behind the house in New Hampshire.

Underwater. Merging completely in the chlorine, surrounded by pale blue plastic siding and the undulating branched firmament above.

Five feet deep was deep enough to return to amphibiousness. I don’t remember eating and sleeping in these summers.

I remember chicken fights, cannonballs, holding our breath whenever the horse flies and bats swooped past our ears.

Nothing else made as much sense as being my subaquatic self, sound and vision were all mine to interpret and own. My brief life as a pre-teen salamander.

JULY 5, 2018.

Everyone vanished from the valley. The heat wave emptied the streets, leaving a living simulation of a science fiction matinee.

I hide out, waiting for the clock to circle around and match the numbers of my address. Digital ticks til the figures line up — ephemeral numerical mirrors — as if minutes were something to survive. Then the empty event evaporates, leaving only lengthening signs of sleeplessness.

Clocks, clicks. Perhaps I’m lost in a loop of endless distraction, reading about rabies on the electric web. Fear is a thief of hours and hope is a lazy mistress, but I am proud to have discovered that the disease doesn’t exist on the island of Hawaii. Somewhere, there is safety.

Late-night Interlude Part 2.

Beneath a cool wall of air conditioning and clean sheets, I maintain a nudity for no one to see, a nudity indifferent to any thrills. Alone, my clotheslessness is neither arousing nor absurd. (When all I have wanted is to be arousing and absurd.)

Up in the Adirondacks, mysteries hide high in the mountains, still and quiet under damp rocks and on patches of ground that no foot has touched. From above, in flight, bioluminescent lichen marks the spot. The wings dip, circling closer until maybe there’s a glade to touch down and explore, to investigate what it’s all about.

(This fictional bush pilot should probably wear proper trousers in order to get enlightened.)

When the sun breaks in over the top of my blackout curtains, I’m hoping to have found songs in my sleep. Something to sing to myself as I brush my teeth in the morning, foaming at the mouth and naked.

JULY 6, 2018.

Cotton dashes punctuate pink sky, lightly sunburned clouds, deeper by the minute. Shy trees become soft silhouettes turning their backs on me as the day decreases, finally faceless.

It is a celestial dressing room up above. And I am suddenly eight and washing my feet at Old Orchard Beach amid a swarm of creepy ogres, salty men with back hair pelts, the concrete keeps my soles and mind cool til I find my family. I have blisters on my back and several x-rated rashes — the treatment: fried dough, sad pizza.

I will sleep in a stuffy attic with my soon-to-be stepsister. I am fine with the floor, a pillow and a polyester sheet. The more I am ignored, the better.

To change and let go. To let go and change. Overhead, the show shifts into the final act, giving way to millions of weightless blazes. Through the night, back to light, when the whole sky comes together, lifting the sun, composing another stunning, natural revolution.

I am both burning jealousy and thrilled to be alive.