by Jesseca Cornelson
Barton, who was patrolling the forest during a season of high fire danger, pleaded guilty to federal arson charges. She said the fire began after she tried to burn letters from her estranged husband. –Associated Press, May 6, 2004
These trees as my witness, this earth,
I want your name to burn like my skin
in our bed, tender without you in it.
Madden the sky with smoke. Stain it all up.
You are soot to me, the way you keep rising,
burning my eyes with the sight of you.
I can’t close them without your ember image
glowing through. Take these trees,
whole gaping mountains full. Take these
other people’s houses. Take everything
that can burn: nests, pine needles, shingles,
closets full of paid bills, and books of pictures
of other people’s precious damn memories.
If it can burn, it can be loved—and if it’s more
than my life can pay, it ain’t a fraction
of the blaze you set in me before walking away.