Poets for Science
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Prescribed Burn

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Below the trail, we see the white fuel tanks

through the cloud of smoke that makes

the flames they cast seem dull. The ranger,

in her white fire suit, looks Martian-esque

against this strange landscape of green

 

and char behind where she walks, waves

of flame spread and smolder the leaf litter

like breakers on a shoreline. A tame blaze

born out of the steady flow of gasoline

and a spark, disciplined by firebreaks

 

plowed into the darkening earth, the ranger

walks her sacred labyrinth in reverse,

a god birthing Phlegethon behind her

as she moves outward toward the perimeter

of tilled dirt, the tattoo of scorched ground

 

and handline spelling boundaries to veil

the illusion of management and control,

a remedy born out of its own poison,

her careful retreat from its advancing line

leaving the landscape charred and impotent,

 

fighting wildfire with restrained flame,

scorching the fuel, the saw palm becomes

an offering against the day when feral

flames might sweep wild as mad dogs

through protected taproot and loam.