The Bartletts are diseased, all half-scorched
limbs and blackened leaves.
For fear of God, we avoid the dirt,
its reach. We bury the cow and we do not eat.
The television blazes through the dark.
We are living in a godless time. For fear
of dark, we try to save ourselves
and set the house on fire.
We try to save the house
and go looking for God.
Finding blood, we go looking for blood
and lose our way. I don’t want to
set the world on fire, the car radio trills. For fear of losing,
we go looking for a fight. We break down
by the shore. Look at how far we’ve come,
the car radio tells us. It is easy.
Feeling easy, we lie down
in the sand and become the sand. Feeling lost,
we lie down in the sand
and become the wind, carrying ourselves away.
For fear of trial, we lose the fight.
It is easy, how the night
is beautiful. The moon bows to the earth
and is swallowed by the sea.
Camille Rankine, “Fireblight” from Incorrect Merciful Impulses. Copyright © 2016 by Camille Rankine. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.