Breadcrumb #34


The heat here is worse than the heat I remember every summer before. Driving in my brother’s car as we stuck our hands out the window, swimming our fingers through the thick air, pretending badly that leaving the windows down was keeping us any cooler. My legs sticking to wherever they landed — the seat, a bench, each other — and pulling away with deep red marks, striped bands, announcing to the world exactly where I’d been before.

     The heat here is dry. I wake up in the mornings with my throat scratching for water, hardly able to take one fine morning breath. I kick off the sheets as I sleep, but it’s not like in New York — humid in July, welcome rain, river nights, cold forties from the corner deli. Here the sweat comes purely from you, teeming from every pore you never knew existed. Your skin produces it constantly, nonstop, and when it hits the air it seems to evaporate immediately, coaxing more sweat out. Come cool me down.

Come cool me down.

      The heat here makes me daydream about my first nights, dancing salsa at a club and then into the street, half carried home. Spinning me around and around and around, he in a white shirt, me in that silk dress with the polka dots. A cool gold glow to the city as its inhabitants ate drank danced slept fucked smoked cheated. We cheated. The heat made me think that maybe I didn’t, but we did.

      The heat here has me talking in my sleep. Has me dreaming impossibilities, you and he and she and me, all in the same room, all taking the same train, all doing the same normal thing and getting along. I wake up unaware of what’s true, what’s happened, what hasn’t.

     The heat here has my hand smearing ink in my notebook, leaving thumbprints on new book pages, crisp no more.

     The heat here makes cloudy smog, egg cream yellow evenings, consuming the sky while the sun takes it sweet time setting.

     The heat here makes the day last until 10.

     The heat here tires me out.

     I turn on the fan and lay myself down on my bed, starfish my limbs so that nothing is touching. I hum to its hum, dream of the January air hitting my face with a shock as I left the airport, a final greeting, smack, punctuating the fact that she was finally gone. Think of the icicles that consumed my city, hovering, threatening instant death. The cold windowed buildings, reflecting alternate dimensions. My vulnerable neck in February when I’d forget to bring a scarf. The lady singing soleás downstairs at the club, the men calling “dale.” The man across the street who stares out of his window every day without fail at 4 p.m., watching passersby, leaning on his elbows in his white wifebeater. Tourists in shorts in bars, invitándote to tequila shots. Seeing double. Sweating. 

     This heat is impossible.

     It consumes you, inch by inch, until it swallows you whole. 

• • •