New York City, July 13, 2017

★★ The sun held back nothing in either heat or glare. The air above the sidewalk smelled like a pet store. A busy flower-print dress flickered wildly in a sustained gust of breeze. Even after the clouds arrived to shut off the excess of light, the hot air squeezed the ears. “I’m sweating!” the five-year-old announced, on the way into the 18th Street station. His brother had already declared it hard to breathe. What appeared to have been ice cream was spilled and baked into the floor of the turnstile. Uptown a strong wind blew as if it meant something, but nothing came beyond a few desultory drops. After dinner, the smoke from a burning manhole stuck to the haze; a beer later, the fire was still sending out fumes to fill the roadway. All that was coming out of the clouds was the excess white light from spilling up out of midtown.