People Near a Fire

A woman sings without breathing mask
in all this smoke.
She covers Wagon Wheel
and smoke covers the mountains.

A crowd of people gather. They dance
as though someone
has just completed
a successful surgery, or a birth,

and small green shrubs have popped up
from the fires before. 2003, 2010. They seem
to run back and forth like children
between challenges.

What challenges me? A guy lights his cigarette
and his girlfriend gets on him.
He says I need it to be myself
while we’re here!

I’m standing alone for the same reason.
You’re off in the market, carrying
my bucket of water. It seems impossible
that I should be able to cry now

smoke like a grey wool pillow, pink
bandana around my face, but I am. Something
about the altitude, my solitude, a mixture
of short air and of people, how

I love you, how I look like a bandit,
how I love to see your ideas
nesting in burnt trees like eagles.
I love how people continue to dance

long after the woman has lost her voice,
how when you look closely, you can see
where new life
has been pulled out of old life.

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