by Ann Douglas
That’s why we have rules
my friend, T, explains. Bacteria
than we can
into the future.
About fires, she says, smoldering grass
makes excellent kindling.
I could have protected them.
I could have assumed an earlier
from nowhere—could have inspired in me
From a swirl
of unstable heat, the fire volleyed downriver
How could you
not see this as battle
everywhere in store?
is what I imagine she’d say
if she weren’t already so busy—
(an activist even in my head.)
This is a friend who can direct convoys.
She hoists drums and 50# packs,
boards the helicopter.
What a vision
to see one’s house among houses outlined
warping the moon as it bores
through twilight to report back,
rock to void.
Such compression on community
spins a centrifugal
model of command
across a vacuum
like a tilting pinwheel.
shriek up Edgecliffe toward the smoking trenches—
I could have danced—
I could have joined our women
bare breasted, ribbons flying
round and round the Maypole
Cosmic monoxide and sparks, the fires,
chest against chest,
clack like two bucks locking headgear.
Eventually as God’s ardor
met His match, He is soothed.
Only a witch,
our sister to flame
would distrust prevailing wisdom.
In matters of fire-fighting,
history was taking
whose favored state
keeps us breathing—
You can imagine its importance here. A breath
from four, and one, I imagine, the instant
reckoned from a pack,
like sparks spit from a whining circular saw
as it cuts through cottonwood.
though without enough crews.
Afterwards, we sift the creek stones
round as mushrooms large to small
that marked the drives off Jumpers Bluff.
It turns out granite burns.
Then what did history expect for its part
fused to God like a comet’s tail
if not pay?
in one direction,
pared to the Gulf Stream,
for that thing like due—
witch, like gratitude.