Dust Season

Dwight Gray

We read of cleansing fires and assure ourselves
we’ll be standing by the end.
July in the Hill Country.
Brush fire season when our concern  for this 
fragile system runs counter to the freedom 
signified by a bag full of firecrackers
and an American flag.

Somewhere a pop and a hiss, 
someone’s lighting the fireworks early,
rising as prayers to abstractions before
falling back unanswered and deadly.

We listen standing on cracked earth, visible
between the dry blades.  Our animal kingdom,
a warbler darts deep within the live oak tree;
a dragonfly hovers above the weeds, 
each announcing they haven’t been banished yet.

A mutt sleeps under the porch, waiting for dusk,
body striped by fire and shadow.

The cactus amid the rocks stand upright, 
unbowed by drought, having been sacrificed
with regularity only to return, roots 
emerging from the side of a broken green paddle,
finding purchase in the rocky dust

where others fear to tread.

The wasps’ nest, knocked down yesterday,
built again today beneath the eave. And, 
across the street, coriapsis covers
an abandoned lot in gold.

All of us — anxious, still,  rising from our wounds.

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