Dry stalks of cordgrass the colour of butter
spread on the greening field. There is a bit of wind
and I am afraid of catching the maple bush
on fire. So I take precautions – a bucket of sap
that never became syrup and a watering can full
of last week’s rain – as if that would stop a forest fire.
I imagine I am tending language, or at least
the modulators of meaning, releasing razor tips
of new growth from the weight of the past,
raking stray words into flame, as I stand guard
inside parentheses, such a chamber of combustion.
I start in the middle of one arc, click the propane lighter
under the plumed seed heads and watch them flare.
The maples echo the grasses’ crackle with a sound
so like rifle shot, I look for camouflage. But it is just
the putt-putt-putt engine-starting rumble of grouse,
interspersed with woodpeckers, the scutter
of wild turkeys, the flap of crows.
I rake loose grass ends into the burn, wonder
what mineral traces are released. But mainly
I watch cumulus turn dark as burnt grass,
the smolder and dance of ash in the wind.