Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


This Poem Isn’t a Dirge [AUDIO]

in Audio/Environment/Wildfires by


The ash of you lands heavy,
the first burden cast on shoulders more
acquainted with your shade, with
the cool of you, the welcome of canopies
and the hecatonchires reaching beneath them.

My marriage learned to breathe there,
by the psalter sown with susurrus and burble.
All our favorite songs are springs or autumns
under your fog—cascade-vapor and oak leaf—
and I know we’re not alone in this fullness.

But any solace leaves soot between our lips
when the transgressed temple of you is the only
inhalation we’re offered. The sky,
a wound of fallout blooding celestial bodies with
this grief refusing us an urn’s weighted closure.

Your razorback danced leprous with saffron
is not a past-tense trauma. It is not happened,
is not yet a miracle of injury-tilled soil so black
that saplings will lore their ancestors volcanic, is
not happened. It is. And we’re watching, unable

to so much as blow a lull into your necrosis, lungs
pressed breathless by all the mourning doves
cooping each sternum a refuge. And we’re
open mouths failing to coax them back out,
their nesting boughs still too gnawn a sorrow.

Where is the wellspring that all those autumns
watered? What is the point of this love if nothing
geysers forth toward your godsend when it
is cindering a dusk I’ll know no sun to undo?
Answer me with anything other than ashfall.

When rain at last does what this
inexhalable ache could not—the enduring
macabre of your loss sluiced into ghosts
and graveyard-marble—hold it. Know its cool
the thanks due. The unguent

hymned in lungs livened unrequitable.
My marriage learned to breathe there,
where the fire scabbed your greens
a someday magic. Us, sitting in your black
and waiting, is another magic entirely.


Read More:
The Eagle Creek Fire Is Terrible—But What Comes Next Is Both Natural and Beautiful [Willamette Week]

Rodney Wilder writes out of Oregon, and has had poems published at FreezeRay, Words Dance, ALTARWORK, HEArt Journal Online, and FIYAH, among others, in addition to his first collection of poetry, Ars Golgothica.forests.

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