Montana, Summer 2017

Though we could not see it,
& so assent,
in the night the greasy drift
slid through open windows

& entered us,
as you were entered,

by the spirit, by the breath

of God, this god
of course the fire
eating grass & sallow trees—

cottonwoods, jackpines,
& along the river’s bellyfull
of dust the holes,
yet smoking,
that once housed the tender roots
of willows.

There is no sufficient

nearly 500 square miles of eastern Montana
licked to cinders,

fifty homes or more
gone to hell.
So the prophecies come to pass—

devil storms & refugees,
threads of smoke unwinding in our lungs

& dreams. Lady,

I ask mercy,
I ask rain,
though these are of course
the same thing. Lady,

I ask enough gasoline in the can
& a last supper
of butter sandwiches

for the wing of gravel
that is the road out. Lady,

give us not
what we have delivered
ourselves unto, not
what we deserve—please,

not that. Lady of Smoke,

this is my entreaty,
my one prayer—
I speak because I believe

in nothing but on my tongue
the gray taste of you.