Smell of blood
thick-mixed with soil
in the air here above where
an animal fell,
where there is a depression
formed as it thrashed its last
at the root of the oak. Tiny bites of fur
from its coat cling to the bark.
The body itself is gone,
taken by its hunter or perhaps another
who needed it. I am not skilled enough
to tell by blood or hair what was here,
but it was big. It must have lived
at least a full lifetime to be that heavy;
heavy living that led to heavy lifting.
What remains floats in the air, lighter
than its death would suggest but still
thick-laden with mysterious red flavor,
and I cannot help it. I cannot help but suck that in.
I cannot help how heavy I’ve become.
Do not question why it happened.
Do not answer with your theories
if another questions you. If another
approaches at all, in fact, get up
and get out. This is no time for that.
Ashes in sky, ashes on tongue.
No imminent growth foreseen.
No reason to panic. Lie down
for a bit. Let what is leftover from burning
shroud you in dissolving gray and white.
Get up and carry your living out to a beach or a jetty,
out where waves threaten to knock you back
from that littoral space. Ocean remembers
you, knows you, and will push you back
if you are not yet ready to be drowned.
Days or weeks from now, you will still be
brushing ash from your shoulders as you trudge inland.
In hills ahead is a road that will pass through
or around your now-poisoned former home —
and regardless of route, you must go there.