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Prairie Fires

By John I. Blair

A glow on the black horizon,
Too late for sunset, and the wrong direction,
Resolves into an endless line of fire
Arcing across the prairie hillsides.

Big bluestem in thick clumps
Quickly conflagrates when dead,
Returning to the rocky soil
(Where roots grow full four fathoms deep)

The energy it stored on summer days.
The roots accept the offering
And take a signal from the sun
Itís time to be alive again.

Once Osage and the painted Wichita
Set fires to drive the herds before their bows;
Now frugal ranchers use fires as tools
To clear tame pastures of the past yearís tangles.

Although I cannot see them, I
Imagine mice, turtles, rabbits, snakes
Fleeing the flames, hiding
If they can in holes below the heat,

And ghostly antelope and bison,
Running hard with rolling eyes,
As red light glares
Through incorporeal shapes.

©2004 John I. Blair  

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