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.



“Radiator Heat” first appeared in Green Stars (Iris Publishing Group, 2005).