Nature is a temple; sometimes its living pillars breathe
confused words—but these tongues of fire roar
gibberish. How they ascend the spire, climbing toward heaven.
The forest of beams, that intricate network supporting
the ancient roof, releases its order invisibly
into the air. We might grieve for each individual
tree whose centuries-old, painstaking structure sublimates
in the heat. We might grieve for the carpenters whose adzes
shaped them. Like incense from a censer, the smoke fluctuates,
and cinders fall on the crouching grotesques. The city fills
with the sharp smell of catastrophe. We have been reading
for years about heat. How we have hoped that each loss would be
as rare, as distant, as hard to believe as the collapse
of an Antarctic ice field. We watch the toppling spire.
That which is, is not forever, but we always assume
that the sequoia that has weathered two thousand winters
will survive this season, the next, and ourselves; that the bright
eye of the finch will be succeeded by indefinite
further finches. Our Lady, did we make you? Did you make
us? I don’t believe, but I have placed candles at your feet.
How many matches have I lit, trusting my innocent
intent to save you, me, from consequence. We still don’t know
the extent of the damage.
Rachel Trousdale is an associate professor of English at Framingham State University. Her poems have appeared in The Nation, Diagram, Spoon River Poetry Review, and other places, and she is the author of a chapbook, Antiphonal Fugue for Marx Brothers, Elephant, and Slide Trombone.
Photo by Manhai.