I slide the gearshift into first,
Turn off the engine. Asphalt
Obscures everything below. Heat

Rises like bread through worn soles.
A woody house, once shaded
By a large oak, prods afterthought:

Two pretty women, sisters,
Came out and gave no
More than pleasant, inattentive

Smiles. Burly, taciturn, the man
In that shack survived a drug
Raid, yet confided he waited for death.

I’m standing on our old front porch,
The house with the long doorbell, windows
Shuttered. You—bold, honest—

Said one June afternoon, “And oh
I love Summer.” You had caught
The original shift, the fragrant lilac

On a First Day. On a street where few
Are ever found again, fewer
Can live true and leave no burden.

John McDonough is a poet and writer. His work has been featured in Vox Clara, Two Hawks Quarterly, MUSE Literary Journal, California Quarterly, and elsewhere. He studied creative writing at Stanford University.