Heat Wave

One lovely cool night in the ovens of August, Mum said,

‘Children, sleep in tomorrow. The heat’s drained us all.’

Oh, joy and excitement!  Not to get up at seven!

The richness of privilege when you weren’t even sick!


We went to bed early, my sisters and I, and giggled for

hours,  milking the marrow of : You can sleep late.

But Nan, who was two, dropped off like a stone, and woke

with the twittering birds before dawn. She remembered


the whisperings under the sheets: SSHSH!  Isn’t this GREAT!

and left all our bumps in the bed.  The sun barely glowing

she crept from the house.  It was a clear morning still dewed

from the night, the best time to play with the puppies:  no one


to boss her, or tease her, or comb her hair!  Upstairs in our

dreams we drifted with leisure when an outraged shriek

rent the air, then yipping and yowling in cacophonous chorus.

We heard Dad’s feet hit the floor, with Mum hard at his heels.


Stumbling and pushing we raced down the stairs, trying to

focus through sleep-bleary eyes. ‘Wha’zhappn’n!’  All of us

tumbled out into the sunshine crying together, ‘What’s wrong?’

Nan lay on the grass in her wee white nightie, the blood spots ripe


in the dazzling light.  Her fair brows knit darkly as she crawled to

the porch scowling ferociously under the steps. The big  male pup

shrank back, whining faintly, licking its paw with a sloppy pink

tongue.   Nan sat on her haunches and noticed her gown.  ‘Ooh,’


she said.  ‘What on earth is going on?’ our dad demanded, still rather

addled by sleep and confusion. ‘Well,’ answered Nan, her gamin eyes

brightening, and turning on us a self-satisfied smile. ‘He bited me first, so I

bite him back.’  She glared at the drooling pup. ‘No pancakes for you  today!’



Cynthia Buell Thomas


◄ Would you care for tea? (for Elaine)

The moon weeps ►


Profile image

Jules Clare

Mon 31st Jan 2011 15:08

Wow, a love the way it flows from one verse to the next, and what a great ending. I wish I could write like that!

Profile image

Dave Carr

Tue 25th Jan 2011 21:03

Hi Cynthia.
Wonderful descriptions and a lovely story.

Profile image

Jo Mayers

Thu 20th Jan 2011 12:13

This poem frightened me. I get very nervous when I think something bad might happen to a dog; I think it's leftover anxiety from Old Yeller. Entrancing narrative though. I'm just glad the pup was OK!

Profile image

Elaine Booth

Tue 18th Jan 2011 21:50

Loved "the ovens of August", "our bumps in the bed", "yipping and yowling in cacophonous chorus" and "fair brows knit darkly". Such a great tale! A very enjoyable poem.

Profile image

bernard shelton

Mon 17th Jan 2011 17:19


Profile image

Lynn Dye

Mon 17th Jan 2011 13:55

This is so good, Cynthia, I love it all. x

Profile image

Laura Taylor

Mon 17th Jan 2011 11:49

Loved this - nan who was two...I had a nan like that as well. I love that she bit them back :D

It's got a really nice story-telling feel to it as well, fitting nicely with the childhood theme

Profile image

Ann Foxglove

Sun 16th Jan 2011 17:47

Ah! The logic of childhood! Nice poem! I wish I'd had sisters to chat to! When I stayed at my friend's house I made them talk all night - or so it seemed - probably till about 8pm! xx

stella jones

Sun 16th Jan 2011 01:28

Oh I read this too quickly and had to go back to the beginning to savour the scene again..a lovely picture.

Profile image

Dave Bradley

Sat 15th Jan 2011 23:04


Profile image


Sat 15th Jan 2011 23:00

You set the scene beautifully for me at least in the words 'The richness of privilege when you weren’t even sick!' Lots of delightful images in this and a lovely childhood memory in totality

Profile image

Petrova Fairhurst

Sat 15th Jan 2011 21:54

So many images I love in this piece; "the ovens of August", "left all our bumps in the bed", "yipping and yowling in cacophonous chorus"

A well told tale :) x

Profile image

John Coopey

Sat 15th Jan 2011 21:18

Cynthia, I enjoyed this. It reminded me of the excellent "Elergy on the Death of a Mad Dog" by Oliver Goldsmith.
"The man recovered fom the bite,
The dog it was that died".

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message