On the yellow and blue prairie
Where the wind rustles the tall grass
A fire begins to carry,
Taking here and there—growing vast.
The grasslands shimmer with wild heat.
From a distance there is no sound
Just a flat orange line like a sheet
Beneath tombstones of black smoke clouds.
In dead of night, it’s an orange glow:
Like a torch in a sunless cave.
And glittering, spark-filled winds blow
Ash over the charred prairie grave.
As huge, towering clouds roll in,
Thunder cracks above the fires;
Rain pierces the smothering wind;
Lightning appears in cobwebbed wires.
By dawn, the prairie is hell’s floor:
Scorched, steaming, smoking, and stripped,
At once damp and hot at its core—
The underworld beneath a crypt.
In time come hordes of butterflies,
Undulating capes of Monarchs,
Faceless with wings like blinking eyes,
Fluttering past the torrid marks.
And, too, bison and birds return,
Slowly and lightly, hoof and wing,
To that flat dish remade by the burn,
To death, life, known stages of things.