Two Fires

... it had something to do
with death... it had something
to do with love.

                            — Li Young Lee

The wild cherry outside the orchard is a dirty tree.
Fruit too high to reach ripens, falls, stains the grass
maroon, a signal to wasps something sweet is wasting.
The chainsaw’s teeth make easy work of it.
Falling slowly, it topples to the ground,
a nest in its branches splaying in the air. I slice off limbs
and you drag them away. I section the trunk,
halve and quarter logs for you to stack against the house.
Tonight, smoke hangs in the valley like a mirage,
its sweet scent lifting us for a moment beyond this place.

                         *                     *                         *

After the last violent storms of summer have shaken
heat from the air, I go to the orchard where we made love
last night to burn the pile of deadwood and plant
saplings for ten years on. Smoke drifts
from the bonfire like the seed tufts you taught me
to shake from milkweed pods, over the wire fence
tangled now like a rose bush, a few barbs
clumped with buds of deer fur. At dusk, the pond
lies beneath its frozen skin as night breathes
on the windows of our home, sealing us in until morning.

Kip Knott | Mudlark No. 26
Contents | Three Sleepless Nights