Skip to main content

A poem from Anne Haines

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Mortality
by Anne Haines

It was the hottest summer anyone could remember.
I know Texans laugh at twenty, twenty-one days of ninety
but some afternoons the air was so thick with humidity
you could have spread it on a birthday cake.
Animals died at the county fair, the grand
champion hog smothered in his own incipient bacon,
lambs panting behind the lemon shake-up stand.
Even my sunflowers, bobbing and weaving in the front yard
like stunned prizefighters, let their leaves wither,
collapse like old women’s hands that have given up on prayer.
Seasons like that, everything feels like a warning.
And when the nights are no relief, the dark air limp and lowering,
we lie as still as possible in separate beds
listening to the dense hum of crickets,
listening past them to the distant yip of a coyote,
past that to the slow machine of weather
churning in the distance, in the moonlight’s steam,
in the unavoidable swelter of August’s waking dream.

Bio: Anne Haines’ chapbook, Breach, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2008. Individual poems have appeared in Diode, Field, New Madrid, Rattle, Tipton Poetry Journal, the anthology And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana, and elsewhere. She lives in Bloomington, where she works as the Web Content Specialist for the Indiana University Libraries. She can be found online at and on Twitter at @annehaines.