After Burn

After Burn

After Burn 960 643 David Wright

I missed this year the burning of the grasses, my friend masked by a red bandana,
torch in hand, surrounded by a choir of men chanting shovel and rake, a few women
playing extinguisher and hose. Most gods used lightning. Vandals and settlers count

on matches, count on campfires and neglect. Controlled burn means, mostly, luck.
Fire now, a surprise wind, not now, a March forecast for evening rain. If you believe
in the ventricled ball of roots below the prairies, you know it is impossible to eradicate

the past. A week, and grasses already insist on themselves. Scalded soil heals green.
Next blaze will be a summer of small and larger suns, then cones of purple, a bluestem
rising undulant and obscene. Cattail and a fall weed with a dozen forgotten ochres.

In August, when I return, I won’t call it a sea but will wade through the blooded deep
prairie of flame. A dozen birds will be startled in the moment. I will be still frightened
by the deepest past. I’ll leave my matches and lightning at home. I’ll wait for new rain.

Header photograph © Icy Blu Daniel.

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