Fire ecology

& "The making of hands"

Fire ecology

It was fire season
the month you went in.
Smoke bellied out past sleeping hills and we
moved forward in a heavy way,
a mass of cattle in the grasslands,
swaying our heads to rid our blood of what
filled the air with syrupy light.
There was talk around but not of
slips — of scalpels, of consciousness, of heartbeats –
and coastal wind furred with shreds of new cars and refrigerators.
Know that science dictates the shape of a flame (teardrop)
and the tautness of an abdomen in sepsis (distention).
There is a behavior to wildfire like there is to
infection –
wayward and swift, flickering through the veld,
grinning at our slow-swinging
animal ways.
A prayer on the hospital intercom has us
yielding to the mercy of God each day
three times.
Somewhere, there are bodies rising
three times
like a herd, like the ghosts of trucks,
grey above the dogbane.
You cry for me to brush your hair
and I do.


The making of hands

First you have a fist,
the same size as the heart, which
came before.
Shape it as a delicate plane:
bones like reeds in the marsh.
Then, cleave part from part until
you are left with five things we name
Add muscle, threads of tendons,
winged capillaries and nerves branched below
each sheathed end
so we can know what velvet feels like,
paper cuts, our earlobes
and the difference of another’s.
And then
link joints that can together grasp and hold
things, open doors, learn the architecture of other
hands (weave its pieces accordingly),
harden into a right angle against a material
with greater weight and solidity than
our own soft bodies,
hold up a head, cup cold water.
There is talk of a man a woman
a snake a garden.
But what sin was born when the heart was
taken, copied twice, when
these two were gifted with
a kind of language and dexterity, the ability to learn
other skin like a map,
to bend and break the
one thing they know
so well.



We swallow whole all things / we don’t know, a slow digestion / of the self.

Nervous System

The neurologist says, The world must be dreamed
before it can be seen—