“Summer Fires” by Lindsay Ahl

After dinner, to escape the dark and heat, I step
     out onto the balcony over the main
drag: a campfire haze, a fog of ash, street lights
     veiled to a dark secret. Air so smoke-metal I’m
breathing in a pack of cigarettes all at once,
     so much so I want to light one, to burn
something that makes sense. The town
     seems to be on fire. My friend in white lace,
her car a black Jag, drives into the smoke.
     By day, the hills behind my house bloom gold,
a cold transformation in news around town: fire
     theories. I have theories on how to smoke
without smoking, on why I don’t have a white
     dress or black Jag. To the north,

the sky still sweet blue, mountains dark,
     my young son camps only ten miles east
of the fire, drumming his way into oblivion,
     into the slush of the cymbal, a light
over trees, he’s as near to the fire
     as possible: high on mushrooms, he cracks
the code, meets god, but finds himself poisoned,
     his limbs numb, his mind low to the ground,
no oxygen. Those doors open in both directions, you
     can lose yourself as easily as you can find
something you thought you wanted even more
     than the primal pulse. His own open heart
lost, but life rises from ash, earth beat, breath,
     a raven in a lighted tree.

* * *

Lindsay Ahl’s chapbook, The Abyssians, was a finalist for the 2013 National Poetry Chapbook Award. Her poetry can be found in the 6th annual Nazim Hikmet Festival Chapbook, RHINO, The Patterson Review, Vellum, Drunken Boat, New Delta Review, and many others. Her fiction includes a novel, Desire, out with Coffee House Press, and stories in The Brooklyn Rail, BOMB Magazine, Fiction magazine, and others. She publishes Shadowgraph (www.shadowgraphmagazine.com), an arts & culture journal.

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