The crackling of branches
brought us together
near the lake,
the stones encircling the flames like a coven.
Eyes watering, limbs betrothed
to the linen sucking in the lingering waves of warmth
from the cooling evening.
The humid horizon lifting into sky,
airing out, thinning into a chill.
It was all we had strength for
— pull smoke into our mouths —
let it filter through our sunbaked minds,
come out as bittersweet coughs,
keep our eyes on the windows, the birds,
It was the smoke that drew us apart, too,
though for a long time
we looked at everything but the tinder. (Eyes watering.)
We weighed it in our hands,
felt the scratch of broken sprigs
on our palms as we tried to grip it like guns,
caressed the bark before we threw it on the pyre.
We watched our boughs curl into coal
for years. Eyes watering.
Anything but the embers.
Eyes watering. Eyes burning bitter.