About the Feature

Photo by Single.Earth on Unsplash

It’s June and I turn and turn
my wet leg in sleep, in hopes
of making a poultice.
There is so much to learn here,
in this place where fire does
the kind of good violence we need it to.
Already I have taken to calling
this valley floor peat, the most useful
of gathered deaths. Each day
my dog and I nod to the soft,
pulpy rot of the world
from behind the sleek blackberries.
Good work, good work, we say—
meaning, step back, step back.

It’s all still up in the air, I suppose—
how I could sink like a bag
of soap and stone, how I could break
and break ties again.
I’ve been told that the bog here
is tender, with every intention
of a good green underneath.
I suppose I could call it my little belief,
open and stupefied as a pinwheel.
But the things we love
are already over, send off the same
sleek gasses of death as anything else.
There is no satisfaction or defense,
just the true song of collapse.
Our fox announces herself like a star
in wobbling red. She makes
her finite mistakes, then releases them
at the end of her shift. Step back, step back,
she says. We fire to raze.

About the Author

Gale Marie Thompson is the author of the poetry collections Soldier On (Tupelo Press) and Helen or My Hunger (YesYes Books). Her third collection, Mountain Amnesia, won the 2023 Colorado Prize for Poetry. Thompson lives in the mountains of North Georgia, where she directs creative writing at Young Harris College.