The fire puts a hand into the earth puts down roots spreads underground interpsychic hillsides blooming all at once. As a child I watched planes open their stomachs make room scoop water from mountain lakes and limp across the sky rescue plans fleeing to the smoke several islands always I wondered, my mind reddening, where they were going
Here they are circling the death of seasons like buzzards around a house holding out for peace. Shadow images of horses running yellow running orange into the camera an RCMP officer with Caution tape looped around a donkey’s neck, uniform and fur burned together they float into the sky together perched in the belly of crisis the donkey swims through the murky heat tree sap boils in veins I watch the sky for planes water on its way
The shore is the only place without an evacuation order unless the ocean rebels. We are trapped between two extremes now, blue above black below. Overcast or clouds refugee smoke cover can’t tell the difference between migration and evacuation. My yard on the coast is full of birds screaming for sugar and wet. The sky is thick with endings none of them prescriptions for rain. Those planes when I was child always knew where they were going, they aimed for one hot spot on the horizon, rash in a green mountainside, when fire was fire not
Rhythm, the newscaster recites, the fire could leap, with no elaboration on this process and how it occurs. The way a fear travels from one mind to another. The way, when you look at me, I have instant recall of our history of eye contact. The fire lives most of its life in the air. Red hand plunged into the earth. Above, imaginary pastel world, drifting castle of rivers and trees, ignite like a stick of dynamite on a raft in the current. Just push off into the slipstream rage and watch it ride.
Here is the fire jumping and here is the mountain wobbling in the oven. Here is the blood-brown band between earth and now. The sky blistering in the background. The fire could leap at any time, the news anchor repeats. Where? Oxygen is unlimited travel. Breath dancing out there in the waves, soaring among the tidal pools of the ashen coast, skipping rocks through the windows of bedrooms
these words by Alex Leslie were inspired by the work of Chelsea Rushton
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