Note: this piece is part of my long shelter in place poem as well as a “study” of fire for a piece I will write for an upcoming exhibition of the work of the artist Anna Kaye: check out her work here.
Perhaps it is time to burn
Two thousand miles away
my mother is burning the forest,
particularly its scraps and detritus.
Smoke follows beauty.
It’s wildfire season.
The burning of trash and debris
in one’s yard in a pit
seems particularly Southern,
or at least Eastern. Here in the West
such an act would cause disaster.
Back home it was merely a minor
social event, something to stand around
and stare at.
When four years ago
I got rid of all my old journals,
all the way back to ones I had in college,
I wanted to burn them
but I had nowhere to do it,
no fireplace, no wide expanse,
so I threw them in the dumpster.
Does beauty follow smoke?
Light a candle and imagine
you are burning what
you no longer need. Offer it up
to the lone flame. There is
plenty of time.
My grandfather, the smoker.
My grandmother, flinging suitcases into the bonfire.
Flames, nature’s masterpiece,
the original work of art.
You cannot look away
from a fire for long.
Whatever it is you’re burning,
Fire on the mountain, lake of fire.
Strands of smoke
like snakes being charmed.
Wet your fingertip with spit,
dip it into ash,
touch your forehead.
Brace yourself. It’s fire season.