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Poetry

From the Ashes

We think it fitting to contemplate fire

nestled,

we humans,

in the charred Ponderosa grove.

The black bark reminds me

what I’ve already learned

and that I arrived this summer

thinking burned forests

were always a sad thing.

I would imagine those stretches of Galician highway

watching through the window of a rented car

staring at the pillars of smoke on the horizon

thinking of the dead wild ponies on the news.

But in New Mexican forests

fire is complicated and

like all things

there’s more to the story than at first you see.

The Ponderosas tell history of change and growth and death

so after we sing ourselves our lullaby

so now the lightnin’s far away

I stay

and let the others drift away to

their cabins and tents and hammocks.

And then i’m alone

more than I’ve been this summer

so far.

Though my light shines on the paper as I write

when I look up

the dark is deep and infinite

and I’m alone.

My fear in the dark is not sharp.

It circles me slowly like shy coyotes pressing inwards

a numb oppression until all I need

is space.

So I look towards it

beyond the highest needles

and find Scorpio—

I think—

then connect the stars in ways that make sense to me

until I am not confined

but infinitely small in an infinite vastness.

My smallness in the stars reminds me

of my insignificance in this place

which keeps me safe

as I huddle like all the other diurnal animals

close to my tree in the night.

Like all the other animals

I slip in and out of shallow sleep.

First minutes,

then an hour,

as the drowsiness drowns the cold

and the fear.

At last

after those long liminal hours

the sun sends its greeting over the hill

in pinks and yellows

and it’s enough

so I gather my self and walk

into the morning.