in the stream behind
your house we absconded
with one, he pinched
at my cupped palms
as we ... [+]
over my grandparents' empty house,
over the orchard and empty barn,
and past glazed windows—sun igniting
the stained wallpaper of empty rooms.
Every day the temperature slips—
minus five, minus ten, and still
the fire department plots to burn the house.
We wait for the match to strike—
a flame as slender as a finger.
They'll bring in hay bales and wood
pallets to kindle what is empty.
It hardly makes sense, the scale
of what will come. My grandpa
lit one match each autumn, put a log
on the fire every night before bed,
stoked the fire every morning
with apple wood until apple trees
blossomed in May. He kept his fires
small, cleaned his chimney.
My nephew flies the drone
with insect certainty—sends it
through the breezeway and over
flagstone steps, and for a moment
it's my grandma—alive, running—
her boots, unbuckled,
flapping past the picket fence.
Then her arms are wings again,
she's 400 feet above the back door,
and I stand in snow and ice, knowing
how heat will rise, that hawks
will glide on thermals.