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."

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

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Behold
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 1 2014 12:21 PM How One Entrepreneur Is Transforming Blood Testing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 12:26 PM Where Do I Start With Leonard Cohen?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.