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POETRY


Little Arson Grasses

By Jennifer Crow in Issue Seven, November 2022

If you love me, you will burn.
Put your cheek against mine
and feel the heat my bones
release into the world. We plant
ourselves in dry soil and gather
water from every deep and shallow
source, and our thirst grows
like the weeds between rows
of corn, and the river sinks
between the stones of its banks
and the little arson grasses
we brought from cooler climes
parch and kindle, a lightning strike
from inferno.

                    Blue hills rise and ripple
through the smoke—I wonder
how the world can breathe, imagine
I smell burning, even here, miles
above the conflagration. Deep valleys
look almost reddish, hints
of blood, of doom coiling skyward
as a child screams ragged and raw
in this airborne tube, the craft of men
diminished against the face
of destruction.

                    I saw the trees dying,
years ago on a drive through
miles of dry mountain passes, knew
disaster could wait a little while,
but probably not a lifetime. Snowpack
dwindles to nothing, but even now
fields of green circles spring up
wherever the rugged terrain allows,
as if we can’t rest until every scrap
of land flinches in our grip,
and we imagine ourselves gods
from our vantage in the sky
and not children: children
in our greed and waste, infants
in our understanding.

                    Fallow lands bake
under unforgiving skies. We have scraped
everything we can from the surface
of our world, polluted it and called
it progress, but the band between it
and us has stretched too tight
and the snap will reverberate forever.
Still, we tell ourselves the story ends
differently for us, the rules erased
just this one time.

                    If I love you,
I will burn. And once I believed fire
was the heart of romance, but now
I wait for rain with my hands outstretched
and know the story ends in ash, forever.

© 2022 Jennifer Crow


Jennifer Crow

Shy and nocturnal, Jennifer Crow has never been photographed in the wild, but it's rumored that she lives near a waterfall in western New York. Her work has appeared in a number of print and electronic venues, including Uncanny Magazine, Asimov's Science Fiction, The Wondrous Real and Analog Science Fiction. Curious readers can catch up with her on Twitter @writerjencrow.

Poetry by Jennifer Crow
  • Little Arson Grasses