a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Fire Ecology as Self-Portrait
“I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and I wish it were already burning!”
A whirlwind—Yahweh, God, Allah, the Divine, [ ], Elohim—induced by fire, composited entirely of flame. Sometimes appears as a funnel, very rarely manifests as an actual fire-tornado. Much is still unknown. Have I only encountered [ ] once? Or all of my life?
The only way to detect [ ]: a dry sensation, a hot front, all coming to a head, all heaving up black smoke, all lunging. Glory to the inevitable hands reaching out—holy dark, holy damning, and terrifying.
also known as “fireline” or “firebreak” in which the burning is separated from what’s yet to be kindled. In other words, planes, trains, and automobiles that enable departure. In other words, the artificial borders of states and countries. In other words, my body becoming entirely separate from yours, hidden in the smoke. More precisely, anyone who ever loved me stands in a line in front of my unconscious body, holding off the fire with water hoses. More definitively, a false sense of security, while still fighting it off.
The scars that appear after burning, while still surviving. Scars manifest as pockmarks, wrinkles, and incisions. Can smell burnt decades afterward. To the less observing, might still be perceived as smoldering. Prominent scars listed here: The Prairie Conflagration of 1987 in Iowa, then the Wildfire in Yellowstone (2011), and lastly, the Great Fire of 2014 (covering several states—including Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas). While no more scars have been found, a drought may be an indicator that more will accumulate in the next decade.
The act of realizing that the only one that is holding the flame to your body is yourself. You are not suicidal. You are not a masochist. You are holding the flame to the wound, still fresh, in order to save yourself. You will have to burn, on occasion, for the rest of your life. Often, the only way you can singe yourself is by pretending it isn’t you.
Micah Ruelle is currently a MFA candidate at Texas State.