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the heat lightning 267
the road to town and the fi elds
the place
and ditch. Pushing through dwarfi sh
wild geranium, spearmint,
snow-on-the-mountain, milkweed,
and rougher weeds, ironweed, red-
root, dock, and the various
grasses in here made the air
strong to breathe on a hot day.
What brooded in that silence
was a hen pheasant, on nine eggs,
and when I strayed too near her
she sprang up out of the weeds
a life
with a cry, and a noisy
frantic rapid slamming
of her wings -- their wings are short
and the body thick, heavy --
an explosion and a blur
right at my face; her warm eggs
on the bare ground looked demure.
Forcing a stand of high weeds
on another day, I met
the authoritative stench
of a cat dead for a week
a death
or longer and it stopped me
like the palm of a big hand
rammed in my chest. I went
in for a look at him, too:
stiff and disintegrating,
his eyes shut tight, and his teeth
bared, set on edge by the death.
Up the pasture, to the west
a fourth of a mile beyond
the great cottonwood stands a
grove of hardwood trees, slim-trunked,