Architecture of Wildfires

There’s no salt in the water, but Lake Michigan
is always green and cold, unapologetic, a reminder
that skin is an organ, too, tightening and prickling,

singing to the rest of a hot lethargic body I’m alive!
like the girl who collects driftwood on the cleansing
shore, ash trees let go in the lake during the emerald

ash borer and sculpts a white carousel from the torso.
Rebirth in a trance, it’s why I can’t exactly pinpoint
an answer when people ask me why I left Florida, or

if I miss living there, except “No.” Small-town people
haven’t seen the endless flakes of ash falling from
the clouds that day, air thick with burning oaks,

miles of looming white cedars burn slower, too, with
the long thin trunks for the flames to climb up, reach
the bounty of leafy greens fingering the sky along the

Florida-Georgia line turning black. The pall of smoke,
the confetti of bonfire haven raining down, the only party
favor we receive in St. Augustine, a gift from the south-winding

sea breeze. When the weather channel stopped calling
for wildfires, all I can smell are the bones ground into
the ancient coquina and wood city. A walk along the bay

at night brings whispers of a sinking town, burned and pillaged
again and again, coral and barnacle blues. All I can say
is there’s nothing but salted rain, no resolution in a wet state.

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