Here I stand, rooted, once hopeful, once a sapling self
There’s no such thing
as a controlled burn.
When tinder of dried grasses
sacrifice themselves to taunting,
and hell advances,
rolling, vampiric combustion
after delicacy of first blood.
Destruction served up with a golden patina of nature
caveman ancestors and horses would scurry away,
this gift of warmth taken too far.
The renewal flicker that returns the elements to ashen form, dust-to-dust
reminding that the strongest, oldest oak
is simply water, fuel, and chemicals.
There’s a beauty to the pyrotechnic choreography
annihilation of the woody masses.
Here I stand, rooted, once hopeful
once a sapling self, dreaming of
becoming something towering.
To challenge whales in grandeur—
the largest living organism.
But as the orange-tinged lightning
creeps across my lawn, and up onto my bark-ed skin
I know for sure
there’s no such thing
as a controlled burn
Derek R. Smith (he/him) is a public health professional, Anishinaabe two-spirit, uncle, partner, sibling, friend, who finds it hard to not write poetry. He has recent publications in Great Lakes Review, ¡Pa’lante!, euphony, and Ignatian Literary Magazine. There is no space for distance here, in poetry, and isn’t that a beautiful thing?