when a fire burns in the hollow

of an ancient sequoia

sit beside her

hear the sounds that aren’t calling

the warblers, the ravens— the jays

six years back, a hermit thrush

lured you through the arid bramble

and left you

floating in a lake of redwood spires

now watch the empty spaces

while you sink your hands in still-warm soil

clean the bone

of a desiccated wild cat

and hold the ruin

of a sapling

curled into a blackened rib

then, you can carve your epitaph

into ashen waters

and feel the wind

delivering the weightless dust

of a forest