It’s too hot to think. The cicadas are too loud and the air too thick. I am reduced to my simplest parts — scrapes and sweat and bug bites and bruises. I am the condensation on a cold drink and the pages of a book. I am a cold shower after the beating sun, cool water sizzling and surprising on sunburnt skin.
It’s too hot to think, so I don’t. I look at flowers and polish sunglasses and sit right next to the air conditioner. I let the ocean push me around instead of my thoughts. I let the grass tickle my knees and ice cream drip down my chin. My weird tan lines are part of me now, permanently etched into my skin. I’ll carry them with me into the cold of winter when my body disappears. I am but skin and sun and tired muscles, wet hair and hunger and a prism of sensations floating in the water. For brief, whole moments I forget where we are.
In the grocery stores, the staff are all masked and the shoppers are not. We fill up the cart with essentials — wine and beer, anti-itch cream and paper towels. I wear my mask. I can’t forget the rage of the sirens of New York in the spring.
Around us, the planet is burning.
We can’t help ourselves. Trump was supposed to be reinstated last week, according to the conspiracy theories we are reluctantly amused by, haunted by the last time we made this joke, when it became president. The air is thick with smoke from the fires on the west coast. Hurricanes are charging towards us. And for 20 years we’ve damned the people of Afghanistan and this week we’ll damn them again.
On the beach I’m reading Nixonland, about voting rights and corrupt presidents and a country wrestling with race and racism, with its blood drenched past and battles for the future. It’s an abysmal cliché, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ve also picked up Dune, with its shifting sands and desperate water shortages and corporate warfare and that too feels like a premonition.
But it’s too hot to think. So I disappear into the story and into the water. When we start reading headlines to each other I head inside to feel the cool air soothe my tired skin. Soon it may be too hot to breathe, but I try not to think about that either. August is a month of Sundays, and there are a few more hours left, long shadows and sweating glasses and for just a little bit longer I am but a body and a prism of sensations. Wake me up when September comes.