Fire Watcher


I climbed to the ridge to see fire

— if I could–

at the root of the smoke plume

which poured from between the mountain’s legs

and wrapped the horizon from south to east

in a tall, thick ribbon of cloud,

fed by a combine blade of blaze,

low and hungry, wide and steady,

blackening the land.


At first the distant curtain of smoke

showed little contour or movement,

as I sat among the nearer flames of blooming cactus

—yellow opuntia, cholla all in fuchsia–

Even this smoke-filtered light turned them into jewels.


Darker plumes now spiraled

against the greater wall of ashy air,

prompting me to announce

 –to no one but my already-illumined neighbors—

that the fire had found structures.

The texture of the rising plume began to buckle

as it gobbled this richer fuel,

chugging upward into fattening, soft-serve billows and curves.


This darkness, though, was it blacker smoke?

Or just shadows sculpted by a descending sun,

who cast its light dispassionately,

feeding all shape and form,

feeding flowers,

feeding the wonderings and sunburn of a poet

sat on tiny planet

turning, turning, ever turning

from blue, to green, to brown….

m.l., eldo, nm

June 16, 2016


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