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Summer Cold, by Carol Muske

April 19, 1998

By day, she's not so sick. She hits

the hound, then kisses him: nice dog.

He cringes, then his wolfish face lights up.

To me, she does the same. At two, her love

of power's in two parts: love and power.

Late at night, I hold her to my breast--

the wet indent her fevered head makes

stays pressed against my gown. She doesn't

have to ask, I wake with her. I hold

the mercury up to the light and read

its red suspense, the little trapped horizon

of her heat. Her slowed lungs draw

and empty. Below, on the lawn,

a hunched figure--dawn?--rakes the black

grass light, turns into a set of swings,

I hold her sleeping weight and rock

till something in the east throbs up.

Day, offering itself, then drawing back.

Day, commuting from a city remote as hell,

or health, where I remember living once,

for myself. Long before this little bird

filled its throat outside the beveled glass,

before the headlines stumbled on the step.

From "An Octave Above Thunder: New and Selected Poems" by Carol Muske (Penguin: 204 pp., $16.95 paper). Muske will read her poems at the Festival of Books, Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

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