[Note from Cynthia Sharp and Timothy Shay: “The Fire is our response to the forest fires that devour the Cascadia region in the overly hot summers resulting from climate change. It’s submitted exclusively to The Miramichi Reader with permission from both authors.”]
What was the name of the blaze that warmed you burned you scarred you lifted you as ash is lifted?
The blaze of her love in my life beloved grandmother that for which I would sacrifice anything until I stopped recovered myself went through flames to freedom now on the other side of the country in wildfire
and beneath the smoke, beneath the red sun and obscured moon, the memory, the kindling and sparkle, the footprint in sand, a bowl cupping cinders and famous ash
eclipsed until masks burn away, until my voice is the only flame, then gone into earth phoenix we are not, but having spoken our words remain, a singed orange sunrise behind a veil of smog
and the smog and heat foreshadow a future a desert of thoughtless sand a hibernation of dryseed in the crisp cocoon of no time all the watches no toc no tic paralyzed by an idea of time missing as the heads that held it heads once clamouring for more more now now a whimper of nothing dreamerless no dream
to speak in these dying days parched tongues charred paradigms how you burn controlled and uncontrolled devastating, freeing, alive open mouth vernacular ripple ring after ring unwound
the song of the saints of smog evangelical dragons flatulent with contrived hopes of a returning messiah now their consumptive prayers have conjured apocalypse laid waste to Eden our smouldering garden our metropolis of Gomorrah our end curated by the profits of religion
elephants stand still burn alive no longer believe they have strength to resist years of life disappear into oblivion as our planet heads into stardust the pause before the next big bang
in towers of charred bone above seas of plastic, blood, and fecal rot in wild flaming forests that will continue to swallow cities of the poor and deluded.
Yet we have forgotten the women of birds and volcanoes and warm home hearths, their bread and the calm song of cool eventide, morning of inviting sun beckoning growth rather than parching tongues
We have forgotten Agnayi, Aibheaog, Aodh, Arani, Brighid, Caia Caecilia, Chantico, Freya, Fuchi, Gabija, Hestia, Ida, Itzpapalotl, Li, Mahuika, Nantosuelta, Oya, Oynyena Maria, Pele and Vesta
O great Stata Mater help us now to quench the outrageous flames of greed and conquest to turn these fires back to small warm lights of safe home and comfort
O Stata Mater protect us now from the world fire, although we have forgotten you, or are all the forgotten Goddesses staked and burning in the heat of culmination, the friction of insatiability?
As the last fire goes out we bury ourselves in words wrap them around us for safety sleep in handmade paper breathe only nirvana
sorrows of lost years dissipate voice returns after the fire of patriarchy that divided our earth when jealous adults took too much her candle extinguished
I listen for her presence spirit and soil inhale as one endure quiet quotidian sky
Goddesses abide as we invite them fan the air around them allow them to emerge within us she who was everything still with me how she would prepare oatmeal each morning lie beside me as I gently awoke a communion of being ordinary light
Timothy Shay is the author of The Dirty Knees of Prayer and This Cabin as the S.S. Titanic. He has contributed to numerous chapbooks and magazines, including The Fiddlehead, CV2, Grain, This Magazine and Rolling Stone and his work has aired on CBC Radio.
Cynthia Sharp is a full member of The League of Canadian Poets and the author of Rainforest in Russet. She has been published and broadcast internationally in journals such as CV2, Lantern Magazine and untethered, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Anthology.