August

S.E. Clark

The church bells ring each hour,
of every day in this city.
I hear them most often in Spring and Fall,
and on rare days in August when the sea
grants us a reprieve.
A breeze that tastes vaguely of salt.

They ring in tune with cicadas,
shedding their old skins.

In August, we fry.
By the noontime bell, it’s too hot to sit outside,
and the flies will dive at your eyes looking for
a drop of water.
Persistent things;
not even an atom bomb could kill them.

My father told me once, as we ate ice cream
on our porch,
that on blue days in August he looks out at the city
past steeples and skyscrapers;
wonders if he’ll be unlucky enough to see the first flash of
nuclear fission.

We would only be unlucky for a second, he says.
We would never see the mushroom cloud.

The files would probably survive.
And maybe the cicadas, too,
singing their canticles under
a detonated sun.