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Reminiscence of a distant exile, or, song of Houston.

Some people see the autumn colors and feel sad. The place I'm from, a summer sadness's what it has.

The half-developed no-man's land I used to walk in a new Sears suit from the Cotton Exchange to the bank

carrying deposits, my first summer after high school, I hear that you cross now in an air-conditioned tunnel.

At Main and Texas, most were resting in the colonnade of the Rice Hotel, some were just trudging sadly ahead.

Tall cooled glass huge centers of commerce and supply that no one has to leave for anything till the still-hot end of the day

can assuage discomfort or a rash, but can't lessen the sadness of heavy cologne, mowed grass, an evening tank of gas,

or of the freeway at 2 a.m. when the window air coming in is hot and your pressed clothes have turned to wet swaddling.

Air-condition all the apartments, malls and cars, cool offices until we freeze in summer sweaters--

but there's nothing anyone can do to appease or change deserted humid yards at a hundred degrees, the mangy

lots, the exposed hot white sidewalks, the buzzing hedges avoided by all forms of life a little large,

such as the tired students who, crossing from class to dorm in the heat, lose the thought they'd only recently formed

in a room cold as ice, completely sealed from the blast, from gleeful scratching grackles and from engine exhaust.

Oh sad is the early morning already at 85, sad the coffee that's no hotter than the car outside,

sad the late hours in the bar or ice-cream parlor that's the last haven of the day from sweaty clamor,

sad oh sad remains the cook-out by the lake, the mad-dog patient man waiting on the pier for a strike,

sad the trip home to the heat-loving water roaches, sad the rotting swings on uninhabitable porches,

and sad the bills for electricity and beer, sad the sleepless nights in stifling heat or artificial arctic air--

May to October heat, hot vacancies, hot rain, weeds running a fever, headaches inside headaches--

but you've got to go out now and get into that car and gather the courage to live until November.
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Author:Gibbons, Reginald
Publication:Chicago Review
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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