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Copyright © 1999 by Ralph Robert Moore.
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god's great kindness
august 13, 1999
Texas is in the middle of another mid-summer drought.
The only water left is in the street names.
Under the terrible blue sky, too high and cloudless and too banana, the more hot air you suck in the more you suffocate, like swallowing cellophane, wobbling to your knees under the weight of the sun, yellow tightness in your chest, smelling barbecue sauce. Face purple, I fell to my knees on our front lawn three Summers ago. I smelled barbecue sauce as I started to leave…
Several years ago, Billie, a woman on Mary's staff, was found by her grown son in her back yard, sitting in a canvas chair, staring straight ahead, dead, after mowing her lawn.
Right now it's been about 106 degrees for the past week. The temperature is taken in the shade, because the direct exposure to the sun would cause the measuring instrument's materials to heat, distorting the ambient temperature. Hence the expression, '110 in the shade'. In reality, the temperature in a Texas parking lot right now is about 120 to 130 degrees.
When it does rain here, it floods. Although Texas has not a single natural lake, more people die from drowning than any other accidental cause. Roads wash out quickly. Most have yellow measuring sticks with black lines indicating feet slashed up their height, but the drivers ignore them, thinking they can front-drive splosh through a stream across the downwards dip in the road home. Their car gets jostled sideways off the pavement by the sudden weight of water spilling from the side of the road, banging the monthly expense around tree trunks, twigs twirling around side windows as they're floated into deeper, colder waters; into bigger bangs against the world off the road. Their white bodies are found days later flushed against bushes and mail boxes, shoes and shirts blown off.
Second to drowning is death by poisoning. Texans wriggle to safety out of side windows, bellies bumping over the bottom sill, cell phone rising out of the surface first, like the Statue of Liberty's torch, not realizing that whenever the water rises snakes take to the currents, black curves scripting atop the white washes, triangular face slapping up against a swimmer's back, unhooking, and slapping up again however many times it takes. Bloated white bodies clog between tree trunks, discovered by helicopters.
In great cold, the dying victim, lost, stumbling over snow, often feels he is too hot. Just before heat stroke stops the heart, the gardener often feels an air-conditioned coolness. God's great kindness, puffing down on His dandelion gone to grey-spored globe.
God's great kindness, puffing down the sweet breath of delusion.