Lake Effect, Volume 25: "Fires & Floods"

Fires & Floods

By Despy Boutris


The night is hot as hell.

Really. The heatwave is so bad


that street signs are melting

like ice cream


and scorpions are taking dips

in the local pool, desperate


for a little relief. Last Tuesday,

I baked a cookie on the hood


of my truck, watched

the chocolate chunks bubble


under the sun.

I can’t touch the steering wheel


without the risk

of second-degree burns,


and the winds are so strong

that I’ve lost two sunhats


and the whole state smells of smoke.

News of the fires and floods


keeps pouring in: down south,

a city lies half-submerged in water,


and, here, dozens of houses burn.

Too hot for even shorts,


we strip off our dresses

and collapse on the grass


by the lake. When you turn

onto your stomach, I want


to touch the sweat pooling

in the valley of your spine.


I want to rub our bodies together,

make a house of flames


before this whole place goes

up in smoke. Fire, in my experience,


is a stronger force than water,

and we’re all branches


waiting to be burned.