Fire Woman

Mornings I walk among trees,
walk away my wanting, long nights,
teeth clenched, waiting;

stormy nights, light slashes the sky,
my body restless, succumbing finally
to my own hands, that familiar gasp.

Now night’s leftover wetness
falls on my forehead and palms,
morning grass worn down by wet,

pine-needles trailing along my cheeks.
I work my limbs over & under,
in & out of erratic light,

finally stopping to sit on a fallen tree,
damp seeping into my clothes, caressing
the red veins in the grain under me.

I lay myself along the tree’s brown length,
the sodden surface, steam rising
off my back in the morning sun,

a vapor climbing out of me
and finally I am at ease
on this abandoned trunk.

I run my hands over moss and sticky sap,
the sweet smell of life under my life,
like light slipping through leaves, like the face

I can almost see under heartwood and pith,
under the rings marking his life
in something darker, hungrier, richer,

under wormholes and decay.
Dragged inside, dried beside the fire,
nights spent sanding, never satisfied,

like trying to spin straw, my mouth
open into sonar, awl and grouter, chisel and sand,
his lips wide and bowed, his nose bent, broken,

then healed, his hips smooth, rounded,
each muscle in his flank defined.
I smooth oil over him, the ruts, the runnels,

the deep chocolate grain of him,
the imperfect circles edging out from the center,
follow the oil with my tongue,

taste his blackness, all tar and resin,
the whisper of vascular sap
in his veins, xylem, phloem;

he glows from within. I can hold
his brown shoulders. He rocks
under my palms. I rock with him.


“Fire Woman, ” Salamander