It scrapes the sky at twilight
but it’s all dried up, like revolutions
and rebellions in distant countries,
continental drift both the slow fact
of geologic time and the dread
that I have slept at the wheel.
Dusk, a hawk keens in the barren pine,
the ponderosa, which means ponderous,
or heavy, stands bearing lichen
like Kleenex stuck to an old man’s bleeding face
after shaving and is anything but heavy,
an almost spindly frame with sagging boughs
and not one bearing any green.
Like an old man, I suppose, it just couldn’t
get the sap up any more.
I’d like to give it plaster, to patch it up,
to use the oozing pitch against itself
like blood coagulates a wound
and stops the circulation, the letting out,
that it was born to do.
I’d like to sing with it
if a dying ponderosa can bear a tune,
to sway at its top in the wind,
to flush the cats that haunt the brush
below the trunk hunting for hooded sparrows
flecking the undergrowth.
I walk down the road where no houses
throw a match into the tank of night
on these trees now only tinder.
The hawk leaves toward light.
The globe rolls toward darkness.
Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California. He has works in Thrice Fiction, Storm Cellar, Windfall, Treehouse and Dirty Chai. He won the 2011 SuRaa fiction award.