A kindly tourist explains the difference between
the heat in the Hudson Valley and Iowa, his home,
which can get this humid but, he said, it's hard to explain.
This New York valley holds the moisture in its bowl,
and that's what makes the trees so green,
then the autumn colors so vivid. He says the weather here
is comparable to southern Iowa or Missouri.
Twain spoke at commencement for the girls at Vassar
once upon a time, a century ago.
Was the weather like home then?
The tourist begins again on the shelves of books on autism,
says he's finished the top two, and has three more to go through.
He gets a hot coffee, despite the heat outside,
inadequate air cooling inside, dark, no milk,
lidded before he leaves the counter, so sugar is out, too.
Missouri, Iowa are faraway countries from upstate New York.
Nothing is far enough away from Long Island, and
inconsequential in any case. There are no beaches
on the shores of the Mississippi. There are no shells
in the mud of the Big Muddy. The sunlight, quickly returned
after a brief, hard shower, enters the shop with some
resistance from the awnings. The glare off cars across the street
is sharp and familiar, a part of summer sunshine in June,
when the light lasts longer and has more to say,
has a more definite impression to make.
Milt Jackson's metal bubbles pop on the CD,
barely audible in the background.
Ambience. It doesn't stop the kids in the afternoon
from playing with the puppets, using a flannel mouth
to say what they mean, assuming the dull roles of
physician, cheerleader, pirate, dragon.
Only Coltrane, narrating his own destruction,
Can chase the teens out into the heat,
down to the park, to smoke as teens always smoke
before their lungs fall out, beside the Esopus,
tribute to the Hudson, distant cousin of the
Mississippi, both being of water, both rolling
while we here stop and talk about the weather.