A wildfire carried by wind,
that rain-soaked moss
withers and lights,
Whips across miles,
Like dust in a gentle breeze
For the orbital lens
An ember rests deep in the ashes
Ripples its old light out in darkness
The bond tears, the grain cracks
And there, it flies free
A destroyer of invisible worlds
We woke up this morning
left the sheets all scorched and melted
Outside our window
Stands a forest of withering pines
We got in the boat, went down the road to the sea
Sat drifting a while
watching the tide
rise past its shore
and crumble the mountains we knew.
We came home around four,
I tripped on the stair.
I sat on the edge of the tub while it filled and ran over
The kids rustled through the tall grass out back
then went on through the pines,
Burned down through our necks
And water spilled out from our fingers
We went out walking
under a front-lit sky
Shouts escaped a window,
from that big house on the corner.
Looking in through the walls, the pine, the still-wet paint
There’s the muzzle flare of their mouths, the smoke rising
from their eyes
We walk on
We walk for days and days, and
There is the dome of the roof
The door at its base ajar,
And we look up and learn to see
The far-off fires;
We falter into understanding
And then further on, past memory and unkempt thoughts.
About the title: The various dictionaries of Pleco (the only Chinese dictionary app you will ever need) define 爥, zhú, as “candle,” “to illuminate,” and “to simmer, cook over a slow fire.” It is an old variant of 烛, long out of use in everyday exchange. I found it one day in my dictionary, and I liked the look of it, though I didn’t know exactly what it meant. So I wrote a poem.
It got me thinking about the relationship between anxiety, climate change, and the nature of 21st century problems. I’ve written more since, but that’ll wait for another day.