It was fever that made the world
burn last summer, that afternoon
when I lay watching the sun pour
its incurable folly slantwise
into a plum tree’s crest,

infusing it till the whole crown glowed
red as infected blood translucent
in a syringe. Sunlight was
the carnal fuel leaves burned for life—
obedient to hunger,

they turned their faces toward it with
such greed, in their recklessness
I could see fall’s wreckage breeding:
motionless, each leaf swarmed
with an earthly fire

commanding as the power I felt
churning inside me last night
listening to a guitar rant
dirty blues till the crowd eddied
open as everyone

started dancing: past will
or withstanding, in the hot dark
song after song grew stronger, thriving
like summer in our shaken limbs.
Outside, between sets,

after midnight in the sidewalk
company of strangers, all
the flushed faces reminded me:
sweat was a fever sign last June—now,
my drenched shirt cooling felt

like health, like strength, urgent as the sight
of taillights queuing at the tollbooths
Friday night, then streaming up the bridge
till all five lanes of their sharp reds merge
toward the city’s bright towers.

Jim Powell, “It Was Fever That Made the World.”
Art Credit Alex Roulette.

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