After The Fire

Amy Polisso

Lodgepoles skinned smooth as silver

taper to threads at the top.

Shedding scorched husks of granite

rocks glow with the newness of skin.

Purple seeds burst like confetti

from blackened cones.

It all looks

overexposed somehow,

unaccustomed to so much light.

Deeper than snow, the ash

is spongy under my boots

and silent. Even the air

has been ground into powder.

Quivering in this blackstick forest

I cannot hide.

Breaking from willows

I see him

antlers and haunches blackened

from grazing, Massive and shy,

the moose lowers his dusty head

to find my eyes. He is unafraid.

We have come through this fire

still flashing behind our eyes,

under our skin. We have retumed

to a place that had been engulfed

in flames and fear.

My flight

burns with the memory of exile.

There is no hiding here. This fire

has peeled my father's death from me,

licked away the grief

layered on me like calloused, old bark.

Turning from me the moose

saunters toward the slice of green

on the other side of the river.

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©Copyright 1997 Amy Polisso