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Wednesday, September 14, 2022


by Laton Carter

Smoke turns the morning light orange on Saturday in this photo taken near the Huckleberry Lookout, provided by the Cedar Creek Fire Incident Command. Credit: Cedar Creek Fire Incident Command via InciWeb and OPB, September 12, 2022

It is not that fire is snow. It is not even
that falling ash is snow. The sky
is stunned, swallowed
by a yellow glove whose palm
opens to haze and drifting filament. Burned
bodies, trees that pursed their mouths, that
refused to gasp or cry, handrails that melted, that
obeyed the persistence of time, they are
floating. (Floating only appears directionless.)
Summer is winter. Hold up your hand. In winter
no one answers. It is not that snow
is winter. Breathe in. Your lips, your throat,
your lungs. Prepare yourself.
Floating is not a weightless task.
blind pilot, un-
yielding conflagration.

Laton Carter's Leaving (University of Chicago Press) received the Oregon Book Award. His writing also appears in Indiana Review, Narrative, and Split Lip Magazine.