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Sunday, January 22, 2023


by Daniel Brennan

While most wildfires burn out in the open, another form of Arctic fire is more difficult to detect. So-called zombie fires can smoulder in peat beneath the Arctic’s icy surface, throughout the winter months. When spring comes, the fires reignite surface vegetation, emitting carbon dioxide from both the vegetation and the peat, which is a natural carbon dioxide store. A report by climate scientists concluded that the increase in the number of these overwintering wildfires is directly linked to climate change. —World Economic Forum, January 11, 2023. Photo: The Bogus Creek Fire in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, a state where the vast majority of carbon emissions from fires come from burning soil.Credit: Matt Snyder/Alaska Division of Forestry, via Associated Press via The New York Times.

We should have guessed by the gray, curled perfume
reaching up from a temporary grave that all good things

stay hungry. A terrible beauty; keeping one eye open
in the coldest sleep, keeping an eye on God himself. 

Blessed be the land that cracks like old skin under 
our sun, the land that shivers off its frost to be eaten

alive by a boiling stomach. Blessed be the earth that
houses the black-nailed hand reaching toward heaven

as the soil softens, as it splits open its breast to reveal
every fiery jewel we thought lost to winter. 

The disbelievers, they will tell you it cannot be this way. 
They will tell you that these new gods, burning just

below the lips, the foils and folds of the mind, should
extinguish in the night as they have for a millennia. 

But the most famished deities find the sky. These,
my sinner’s hands, hands which have held dirt in the shape

of lonely men and men crawling deep back down into
their graveyard dirt, hands which have found every other aspiring 

angel in the dark corridors of night between body high
and exaltation, these hands must clasp in a bent prayer

for someone, for something. Find meaning in the revelations,
the peeling snowfall that has blanketed a red mask of death. 

Find God in the furious inferno creeping up through nutrient-
rich soil, screaming to the heavens, making us believe

in an eternal life, for these flames do not die, only slumber. 
Blessed be this new generation of disciples, apostles, apotheosis 

in freeze-frame. They must learn to worship the earth that
cannot keep its fiery dreams beneath a dark shawl

of rock and root and snow and seed. We inherit the 
land that devours itself, the endless eulogy below our funeral pyre. 

Daniel Brennan (he/him) is a resident of New York City, but grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Pennsylvania (ultimately serving as a focused source of ecology-based inspiration). As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Brennan’s work aims to capture both the vastness we feel in the face of our ever-changing planet, while confronting our own bodies and the daunting elements of intimacy we feel every day. His work has appeared in CP Quarterly, Grand Little Things, Feral Poetry, with upcoming work in the Garfield Lake Review. He currently lives in Manhattan, and works full-time in advertising.