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the · inconsolable · secret

in which the humidity crackles like a snapped electric wire

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i hate the dog days of summer. all of it. the sticky, the humid, the sweat-running-down-the-back-of-my-legs-ness of it; that feeling of never being truly dry or clean, the smudginess of summer. the bananas on our kitchen table ripen with a shocking alacrity, faster than we can eat them.

in west philadelphia, though, there's a deeply pleasurable time-travel element to the hot hazy smush of july: we live beneath a prehistoric canopy it seems, full of gently creaking trees and singing insects, crammed with shiny-backed beetles and tiny ecosystems churning away in each drop of rainwater on the sidewalk. it is for me the only real joy of summer, that one morning when we all wake up to a world become aggressively green, the oaks and the elms, the magnolias and dogwoods having quadrupled in size overnight, pressing huge veiny leaves the size of dinner plates against our windowpanes. they want in. the thick air, practically erotic in its dampness, coaxes the grasses and ferns to sprout and grow and thrive in every crevice, every pavement crack, every patch of earth and we as a community, as a little village in a big city, we don't appear to want to stop it or manicure the summer into baskets or pots or even into hedgerows, really. we give ourselves over to the thickness of it all. three houses over, the wisteria clambers up the porch columns searching for higher ground while below the roses and hydrangeas and dahlias and foxgloves grow swollen in the damp air, their heads bobbing downward like an old woman or a tired child, tangled up with each other. two blocks down, sunflowers glare at us from 7, 8, 10 feet in the air. after the heat of the day, when we're all huddled with our fans and our sweating glasses of fresh mint tea with its useless ice cubes, i like to watch the devil's trumpet unfurl itself across the street, huge and white in the gloaming -- a performance so slow that you can't see it, but over in a moment if you look away.

much moreso than spring, with its politely peeking crocuses, this is the time of year when i feel the plentitude of the world, and we can fully expect that this day is all days, that an apatosaurus, casually risen from the banks of the schuylkill, will appear at my window to peel away a wet star-shaped leaf and move on to the next house.
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