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"Canadian Summer, 2021" by Krishnakumar Sankaran

Canadian Summer, 2021

Gelid, the road broods, like the grey ribbon
the map on your phone would have it be. Sun-addled
signals gesture, one to the other, to pavement debris.
Right-angled intersections with a symmetry of roofs
that slice your sight into ordered lines, bleached-light 
shop signs of plazas staring down at empty rectangles
your shadow cuts through, a careful avoidance 
of strangers — their stark strides sheering the air
from your lungs. Until it is just you, caught 
in the amber of this evening, dropped by a breeze
that has abandoned you, stuck in sweat-coiled
skin and shrieking joints. The road — its traffic growl 
silent, long tongue lolling out into the warming sky. 
Between flake-stippled clouds and the winds that tear them,
steeped in the heavy air weighing down your throat, 
rising from the burnt-rubber fumes of simmered asphalt, 
your sense of place wavers. You remember now, the ground 
is never still. Slipping along a mantle — part lava, 
part longing — land and sea, wind and tide, rush 
to meet each other like outflung arms finally come to rest, 
palm pressed to palm, heat flush with heat. 
Who is to say, tropical summers can’t cross oceans, 
continents, time-zones, immigration checkpoints
to settle like a skin-prickling charge around you? 
Invoked by fires laughing into the Pacific sky, boomed 
north by sinking pressure, cradled across red evenings 
by thunderstorms. You breathe it in the lambent snap 
of a second, and home does not seem so distant.

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