J. Robert Oppenheimer’s Ghost Considers the Cerro Grande Fire

Jemez Mountains and Rio Grande River Watershed New Mexico

All this I made before string
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxTheory. Before the fire
xxxxxxxxxcrews scratched the forest
duff away to reveal

fissures that let the earth
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxbreathe incandescent ice
xxxxxxxxxfrom the moon’s dark side
with its rind of echoed light

where now I live.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxThe sacred secret of making fire
xxxxxxxI turned from ritual
into religion unnatural.

Imagine my cancered delight
xxxxxxxxxxxxxwhen through trembling aether I sensed
xxxxxxthe ash white fire-boss
dare give permission

to ignite the conflagrant flares
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxunaware of coming wind.
xxxxxxxThe inevitable explosive
effect of two fires

one to ravage
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxone to block.
xxxxxxxxxEach with mass critical
enough to suck all oxygen

from each molecule
xxxxxxxxxxxxxof super heated air
xxxxxxxthe way two lovers
share in the redolent dark

a breath kiss
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxtwo mouths
xxxxxxtwo tongues
the suicide of love

and the sudden perfume
xxxxxxxxxxxxxfrom the pair
xxxxxxxxfrom every pore
ecstatic in flame.

And after everything
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxwas ash I walked
xxxxxxxxthrough skeletal pagodas
temples of scorched fir and pine

even once water laden
xxxxxxxxxxxxxaspen now dried.The earth’s breath
xxxxxxxxmingling with my own
like wind between atoms.

Heat shattered boulders
xxxxxxxxxxxxxin the mouth of charred kivas
xxxxxxxxblackened Anasazi shards
flame fractured stars

and all those nascent souls
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxunbound unstrung unfettered.
xxxxxxx50 square miles of torched
fawns seared elk calves

singed bear cubs
xxxxxxxxxxxxxkindled fledglings
xxxxxxxflammulant owls
ravens fringed with flame

severed from air
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxunfeathered and lost forever to sky.
xxxxxxxxAnimal and bird numbers
greater even than my own count

when I loosened fire
xxxxxxxxxxxxxlike rain-child of Kali and Shiva.
xxxxxxxA million and one radiant
bodies with skins burned

to negative images
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxof every garment they wore
xxxxxxxwearing now only light
as do I

clothed in feathers
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxand fur of the dead
xxxxxxxmy parched mouth choked
with their unwatered breath