Today's poem is by Christine Potter

Passing the Wildfire
        Montana, August 2007

After driving past the hundred hills
of Western Pennsylvania, sky bright
and still as a dry swimming pool—
after the Great Plains in their weary

glare, our car its own sun, glinting
in motel parking lots late afternoons
and at dawn—after all that, this smoke
and cold water in a stainless steel sink

at the rest stop an hour east of Missoula.
I splash my face, run wet fingers through
my hair. Breath catches in my throat
like soup, over-salted and boiled almost

to nothing. A couple on a motorcycle masks
their mouths and noses with damp towels.
The fire's on local radio, but it's only human
interest: stalwart joggers in the haze,

children at the park anyway, this state's
late summer. Brown clouds like dried blood,
an in-law on the cell phone: really last week's
heat was harder to take
. Half-smothered

coals like orange stars in the black grass
that just brushes the road's edge
a mile out of town. Then we're past it,
and almost all the way West. I won't smell fire

again until tonight, when I pull today's shirt
over my head, sitting on a cool white bed
at considerable altitude, dizzy from it
but grateful for this twilight's clarity.

At the windows, half lost in shadow,
six-story cedars flap their shaggy branches,
like slow wings getting ready to land,
calmly descending, circling into night.

Copyright © 2013 Christine Potter All rights reserved
from Sheltering in Place
Cherry Grove Collections
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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