On a Burnt Forest Near Home

by M. J. Smith

This is where you danced
next to some pitiful droplet
of a rushing creek, the pine
branches firing off cracking
sounds when they snap and fall.
This is where you walked,
so many times before,
atop the needles and burnt brush
and dead squirrels, like the kind
you hunted with pellet guns as a kid,
always missing. And you stand here,
not learning, as you once did,
about how to build a trail through
briars and thicket, but only trying
to make sense of the pines, the breezes
tossing the needles in your face.
And past the branches open sky,
cloudless, without end.

M. J. Smith, a long-time reporter, has worked as the AP correspondent in Trinidad, at The Providence Journal in Rhode Island, the AP in Little Rock and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. He is now in Paris, studying at the Sorbonne, writing and trying to find manual labor so he can afford to buy cheap wine.