Gary Worth-Moody

Issue #
October 3, 2017

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
                              Theory. Before the fire
                 crews scratched the forest
duff away to reveal

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

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

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

to ignite the conflagrant flares
                              unaware of coming wind.
                 The inevitable explosive
effect of two fires

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

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

a breath kiss
                              two mouths
                 two tongues
the suicide of love

and the sudden perfume
                          from the pair
                 from every pore
ecstatic in flame.

And after everything
                          was ash I walked
                through skeletal pagodas
temples of scorched fir and pine

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

Heat shattered boulders
                          in the mouth of charred kivas
                 blackened Anasazi shards
flame fractured stars

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

singed bear cubs
                          kindled fledglings
                 flammulant owls
ravens fringed with flame

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

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

to negative images
                          of every garment they wore
                 wearing now only light
as do I

clothed in feathers
                          and fur of the dead
                 my parched mouth choked
with their unwatered breath

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