Fire Danger: High

But you burn, and I know it.
   Adrienne Rich, “Orion”

As we wind up the Berkley hills, brown foam
peels off the dash of his hot Dodge Dart.
I crank down the windows for a sun-singed draft.

The smoldering tip of his black clove cigarette.
His afternoon stubble, the clear sky, the dry grass.
One hand on the gear shift. Both my hands on my lap.

Years ago these hills went up: ash fell like snow
in Alameda. The foothills burned for three days.

He throws the butt into the the road. The sparks scatter
on the asphalt and die.

He moves his free hand

 

to the the wheel.

First published in Residual Heat under my pseudonym Aga Black.