Wildfire Season for Jane

by Angela Patten

I see you on the concrete streets
of East Liverpool, Ohio
that industrial Crockery City where you were born.
Your red hair like the berries of a Mountain Ash
setting fire to a gray morning.

Oh Jane, fires are burning
in the Little Bear, New Mexico
in Skull Creek, Wyoming
all over your beloved Montana.

Winddriven, unpredictable
charring acres in an hour
they obscure the sun at midday
sometimes jump containment lines
leave burn scars on the land pink as singed flesh
the indelible mark of a sacrament
that obliterates the past.

Oh Jane, your body was up for anything
before sickness started running through you
like a wildfire. Some people escaped
left you to shift for yourself.

Now firefighters have learned to get out of the way
allow those conflagrations to do their disinfecting work.
Eradicate thick canopies, brushy undergrowth.
Permit sunlight to reach the forest floor.

Maybe the rains will come soon.
Maybe a miracle will happen.
Maybe you can just let it burn.