fire danger high today

the arms of the bosque form a temple
site a dim sage             sap a gentle
fiery teacher

in yesterday’s burn, the wild flames
jumped the river
danced for acres with ache
as I loaded my car                 in the event

it touches,
to return to this network of trees
(who make way for each other
who weep with wind        for what was blackened)
is to discover a spiral of mulberry
a pocket of decadence
within a realm of filtered light

find me humming through the bush
with a basket      dog paws painted purple
find me whispering to laden branches
beside a yearning
besides,          a small dark-faced bird
ordering “come here”
motioning come here     thumb, two fingers
also purple                 after having been motioned
by a soft breeze
by a silent ask to be unburdened

the tree that bears fruit is not withholding
despite the loss           a shock of death 
reverberating through root system
despite the taking,

mulberry is a generous and hungry lover
glutton for giving         shouting for touch
I want to be consumed          in a way 
that is safe
in a space without smoke
in the shade of a cottonwood
in the slit of the bark

Copyright © 2022 by Jaye Elizabeth Elijah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 8, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.