Proper Fundamentals in the Art of Obeisance

In memory of John Sherriff (1918-2002), with thanks to Hugh Fenton (1893-1959) for an old connotation of "fundament"

A rare June thunderstorm in the desert,
localized as such storms contrive to be
in order to make the news this afternoon,
in order in turn to maintain the reputation
of desert for what is rare, colorful, and violent—

For Mrs. Veneering, whose name is legion
in the legions of Names in Paradise Valley,
the gray sky seems to have reminded her
of a wanton lapse of class in her hair color,
and the gray begins bluing as the sky clears.

She deigns to converse with us before
we arm ourselves to prune the thorniest
of her desert thorn trees, a honey mesquite.
I take off one glove, not to touch the finer flesh,
but maybe only to flap sweat from my brow,

for a June storm brings back heat in a hurry
and untoward humidity with it—or maybe
to seem socially deferential to Mrs. Veneering.
“Is it raining in south Phoenix?” She asks, and
her hair color is lightened by her condescending

gesture to the peonage as it begins to match the tint
of the blue-tinged clouds, that, like the beautician
the subtle hue presages, all bow to Mrs. Veneering
as they, not turning, wisp their obsequious way
backwards and dissipate into the sky-borne coif,

then salute her presence from their distance,
and acknowledge her investment in view,
the pure blue aura, the proud
and universal fundament poised
regal in paradisal real estate.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.