The Disorderly Order of the Forest

I go
for the birdsong,
smell of pines,
disorderly order
of the forest

it owns
mysteries, miracles – trees –
some reach a hundred feet
to the sky
some lay across the trail
spawn a universe
in their rotting trunk

last week
I drove to the trailhead
a phalanx of shimmery women
floated out of the forest
chased by the fire
which created them

on trail
silvery threads covered the ground
soot stained
shriveled tree branches;
occasional bright green ferns
preened among
blackened pine cones

I hiked
ahead and saw
wavy columns
of white smoke
one, two, three, four
I understood
the forest burned
I ran

no one
wants to be
a brown fungus
a woman made of smoke
a silver strand of witness
unless it is decreed.
I fled the forest

This originally appeared in e-Merge Magazine‘s winter 2022 edition