Jennifer Fandel

Contest - Honorable Mention

Jennifer Fandel’s poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Baltimore Review, Midwestern Gothic, Little Patuxent Review, Natural Bridge, Calyx, and A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (University of Akron Press). She is a freelance writer in St. Louis and a contributing editor for River Styx.

Heat Wave

Let’s call it a state of mind, sprawl
on the sofa and listen past the fan’s drone.
Crickets elevate the heavy stillness.
Cicadas whirr their electric dreams.
And when misery edges into our practiced peace,
there’s always the sweet relief
of a cold shower in late evening,
lying wet beneath the sheets.

Otherwise, what departure do we have these days?
A bus ticket slid under bulletproof glass.
Windows lifted until all the ghosts—
both of sinners and saints—escape.
The hum of the streetlight
and its dull florescence sprouting shadows
among the hulks of cars, the shifted shacks.
The sweet pine of gin unsettling ice.

One night, accidentally drunk on cheap wine,
I rode my bicycle home, floating
above the pavement. No breeze
but my speed. No road, my body catapulted
into something almost ecstasy, a tunnel of blue
quiet through the canopy of leaves.
No thoughts. Nothing but heat
steadying me.

'Heat Wave' was written in the middle of one, when I lived in far southern Illinois. I’m from Wisconsin originally, so heat waves were almost always short lived when I grew up. But as an adult I lived for a time in southwest Louisiana and learned—when heat (and humidity) become your life for weeks, sometimes months—how there’s really not much you can do but give yourself over to it. Mystery lives in that heat-soaked delirium and time slows.