Featured Poem: Heat

By Amy Uyematsu

It is still not summer
but it’s too hot to sleep.
The same bird screeches
just outside our bedroom window.
Both of us recognize its cry,
that insistent chirping which kept us
awake so many nights last summer.

Has it already been one year
since you said you were leaving me?
You wonder out loud whether the bird
flew north or south for the winter.
It’s just our luck
that blind, stubborn instinct leads
this noisy bird to our backyard,
to nest in its one lonely tree.

I nestle my head between
your shoulder and chest,
the place I can still keep
returning to safely,
but I have to position
my hands to my side,
or stretch an arm out
motionless across your body.
How well you’ve trained me
in the art of intimate distance.
Even when we wrestle and play
like lovers about to make love,
you hold down my hands so they won’t
stray too close. It’s not been easy,
your tenderness demanding
its own uncertain geography,
so when you slide your fingers
along my cheekbones
or stroke my hair,
I can’t let myself get too aroused.
The bird won’t stop squawking
but you’re falling asleep anyway.
Lying next to you, I try
not to think too hard,
the bird shrill and tireless
through the long night.
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