David Salner 

Forest Fire, Viewed from the Kanawha Valley 

Above a roofline of wires and gnarled shingles,
a faint yellow dawn. I lounge on my porch
over coffee, in a slum on the West Side
of a capital city with a gold-leaf cupola.

All night long, brush exploded in darkness, fire circled hills
in nervous flares. Small wild animals—​​
coyotes, squirrels—scurried for swamps,
for muddy traces and ancient runs.

Down here, ash settles on windshields, a powder from which
the last trace of weight, the last wet
burden of life has been burnt—and a mustard light
scours shadows from the bruise-blue

depths of the night. I lower my cup to the floorboards,
the scabbed layers of paint, grab lunch, pull
the door softly, listen for the latch, the dull
metal syllable in the wide morning silence.

Drive west from my alley into the mist lifting slowly,
like a shawl from the silty