Charlotte Matthews

Radiator Heat

In spring, tilled fields stand immaculate, carved
with distinct grooves of plain earth where seed
will wait through the last nights of frost
It’s the same as my mother waiting: uncertain and alone
upstairs in her sitting room far into morning.
Though the slit of my bedroom door, the hazy shaft
of light and the noise she makes clearing her throat
mirrors my suspicion he’ll never come home.
Tonight the entire house clangs as cooled water drops
to the basement, copper pipes
singing the pressure of such a falling.
Then, as boiling water rises up,
whistling fills the air, solace shapeless
as a crowd’s blur over the radio.
This house is practical, center stairwell,
brick, sensibly set on a side street where cars
sweep up and down the crossroad avenue.
Whenever it rains, headlights spread out
in rays on the wet pavement unrestrained
like splatters of clay on a pottery wheel.
In the morning she’ll point to the dogwoods.
See how they look now?
After this rain they are russet,
a color complex enough for fall.


Charlotte Matthews
Radiator Heat first appeared in Green Stars (Iris Publishing Group, 2005).