Bill Griffin: “Prescribed Burn”





Prescribed Burn

than the rangers intended,
judgment of flame
on vine & brier,
jellied gas vengeance
tears sapling chokehold:
          it’s time, 
past time, juices boil 
and crack and twenty feet up
long needles scorch
a black shroud
          but wait
until spring, green crown
emerging from char,
heartwood alive,
and at each tree’s feet
an oblation of
          nourishing ash;

          forgive me 
for the tangle of all 
our years: it’s time, past time,
thorns twisted between us,
          my fear
of hot words, flamed feelings,
my fear of burning ignoring 
litter and scrub
prone to flare with a spark
and now how high
might the fury rise?
          but wait,
some lively shoot 
has still struggled up
from the core: 
thank you for feeding it, thanks
for the strength of your own
          sweet heartwood,
but most of all 
thank you for
          the match.



About the Author: Bill Griffin is a naturalist who lives in rural North Carolina. His poetry has appeared in NC Literary Review, Tar River Poetry, Southern Poetry Review and elsewhere. His ecopoetry collection, Snake Den Ridge, a Bestiary (March Street Press 2008), is set in the Great Smoky Mountains. Bill features Southern poets, nature photography, and microessays at this blog:


Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Remnants of a previous forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, in the northwest corner of the western state of Wyoming” (2015) The Library of Congress (Public Domain)

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