Tagged forest fire

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as embers cool across the forest floor

it is terrifyingly humbling to drown in smoke

witness chimneys made of old growth

watch mushroom clouds rise from the canopies

warm our bodies at mountain range hearths

wade through plumes of smouldering incense

 

you can watch it all from our front stoop

or the passenger seat of our beat up butch toyota

see the sun set neon clementine between the western ranges

watch the gleaming blood moon rise from the eastern cedars

 

tears are chased burning from our vision

while breath clings hidden deep in the roots of our lungs

begging for lungwort. usnea. cabbage and cottonwood.

every living thing is bent in prayer for rain

 

i can’t help but wonder, is this our life now?

will we ever see the river from this perch again?

will smoke masks keep arriving in the mail?

is this what breathing has become?

 

as the smoke clears we bath in the sweet milk of relief

relief that our home still stands, surrounded by sprinklers

relief that we have last minute refuge in every direction,

but we didn’t need to use it

we didn’t pack our goats and chickens and memories

into a pick up truck and drive in any direction where the road is still open

relief that the the rain has washed away the ash from our windshields

relief knowing that “burnt to the ground” happened across a different highway,

than the one in front of our house

relief in the sweet sunbeam of temporary blue sky reprieve

 

we are dancing cautiously with a fleet footed fever

our backs turned, we’re whispering about her

bouquets of yarrow in our hands

 

we are praying at a hearth brought to our feet

an altar built of our desire for convenience

we are being smudged clean by lessons we neglected

ancient wisdom we turned away from, called primitive

our path is a trail of spilt blood and gunpowder across the forest floor

we are walking blindfolded, into the end of days

our hearts yearning to be cleansed

palms open, waiting to be kissed by lightning

 


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