Judith Nichols


Posts sway like cake picks along roadsides
in heat waves, and the whole province bristles and bakes.
No rain for three months, and the throat starts to ache.
Saturdays, starting early, we smell the brush burning.

A thin promise, a change, bursts open, a fever—
pink flowers cover branches and hover like smoke.
Red blossoms pop too, in parched, humble yards.
Vultures looking down would see the province bleeding.

On the ground, sugarcane heaps high on bumbling diesel trucks.          
Workers ride careening loads, holding wooden railings. 
Ducking for low wires, one leans into a story
or a complicated joke. Another waves insistently

to a nearly-grown daughter. She turns buoyant
and completely unpredictable. Blowing kisses to a worker,
she says to believe, with any luck, before long, rain
will come again, softening mossy hills, washing away sorrow.