“Canyon Fire” by Patricia Caspers

03 April 2020 on Poetry   Tags: ,

Another August morning the sky opens
its smoke-heavy wings, and after so many years of silence,
we hello each other in the cafe,
as if not knowing the wooded place
where we parked my hatchback
all those other harvest nights is blistering, thick with ash
–gone— the hideaway where we kissed ourselves dry,
kissed until we slept with our names in our mouths.

While the barista writes my name on a paper cup with a wink,
the news rack shouts a tally of blackened acreage, numbers
of injured firefighters, the impossible terrain, the dearth of rain,
we stumble our way through smogged skylines,
school cancellations, containment,
and if I stay too long I might tell you
I dreamed the dream again.

It’s autumn and you ask to drive away from that night forest,
from the constancy of evergreens, and I say yes,
though our feet are as bare as our pockets,
yes, though your parents are waiting up.

We drive the rough vein of the valley
and arrive at the ocean with the dawn gulls.
We roll our pant legs, wade into the cold Pacific,
christened by our own salt and desire, and the knowledge
that one day you will be a man who runs long treks
of forgetting through the tangle of manzanita, madrone
and sugar pine and doesn’t dream of the sea at all.

***

Patricia Caspers is an award-winning poet, columnist and journalist. Her work has been published widely, most recently in Terrain, Catamaran and Pedestal Magazine. Her full-length poetry collection, In the Belly of the Albatross, is available from Glass Lyre Press.  You can find her on Twitter.

Burning Timber is a photograph by Saunders Drukker. Saunders is an amateur wildlife and landscape photographer, with a particular interest in wild land fire. He graduated from the University of the South with a degree in Ecology and Biodiversity before working as a Prescribed Fire technician at Tall Timbers Research Station in Tallahassee FL. There, he spent his days lighting prescribed fires in order to help the forest grow healthy. Saunders is currently pursuing a PhD in Biology at Texas State University where he studies the effects of wildfire on native reptiles and amphibians. You can find more of his photography on Instagram at @saundersdrukker and on Flickr.

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