Forest Fire

by krstaten

Let’s say–just this once–that there was a forest
     and a naïve child with a box of matches.
This child, he had fire in his hair and in his eyes
     and in his hands now too and he truly believed
that he was Good. Let’s say–just this once–
     that there was a forest and it was Good

except that the rain had stopped. And this boy
     with eyes as blue as almost the ocean,
brought Dixie cups of water for the earth. All the ocean
     in his eyes, with the fire that was deeper,
could not stop the wilting, so the boy, in desperation,
     decided to enrich the soil with ashes.

We all learned in school that sometimes, a forest fire
     is what makes the new forest strong, but we never learn
why. We should burn, but not to the root. We should let light in,
     but never destroy the heart of the trees. The trees
need something from which to grow again. And this boy,
     he had too many matches, too much fire

and not enough ocean in his eyes, and when his short-
     sighted vision burned out, when his hunger for blackberries
grew taller than the trees, he burned the forest down
     in hopes the blackberry bushes would grow stronger.
But the heart of the trees burned, too, and the sun then shone
     freely on only dirt and ash and shriveled berries.

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