Ardent

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Sept. 13 2000 3:00 AM

Ardent

Our English word "ardent," meaning "passionate," comes from the Old French ardant and the Latin ardere, "to burn." The original meanings include "burning," "red-hot," and "parching."

Advertisement

Today what I want is simple.
Sliding Rock, North Carolina. Entering Pisgah
the air cools before the long slope of water,
skunk of moss and wood, clean cool of water
all around you in the air. Particulate,
minute, mist rising from the broad rush, water meeting
water. We'll breathe it, soothe
these parched lips, this burning.

Etymological research of "ardent" brings me to
the gleam of pale quadriceps, skin of your cheekbones, bones
of your jaw. Each island, each car, each rainy street, each
candle each window each sky. Your body smooth, hot
here, cool there. Local lore glory deserving close study.

I want to give you green and golden fields, alfalfa, wheat
in sunlight, August, three p.m. In Kyoto, kanji are burned
into mountainsides in August. You can read them from miles
away. Old flames, boxes of blue-tipped strike-anywheres. A state,
uncharted country, a compass, sketch of map. Oaks,
soft rope of tire swing, wide slow rivers, campfires, coals. Oak
Room full of flappers, Luckies smoldering in holders. Piles
of burning leaves. Also smoldering.

A brickyard a lumberyard a wood fired kiln.

My lips are burning. No,
my mind. In my mind my
lips burn. I am "burning." You are "red-hot." This urgency,
open in daylight: "parching."

 

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.