When a human is asked about a particular fire, she comes close: then it is too hot, so she turns her face—
and that’s when the forest of her bearable life appears, always on the other side of the fire. The fire she’s been asked to tell the story of, she has to turn from it, so the story you hear is that of pines and twitching leaves and how her body is like neither—
all the while there is a fire at her back which she feels in fine detail, as if the flame were a dremel and her back its etching glass.
You will not know all about the fire simply because you asked. When she speaks of the forest this is what she is teaching you,
you who thought you were her master.
There was a quickly knocked down fire last week.
It's impossible not to think of fire in southern California when it's hot and dry and windy like it is today. It's impossible not to think of the phrase trial by fire. Or the word crucible. Or hell. Or chemotherapy. Or radiation. Or the image of walking across hot coals as a test of one's fortitude or belief in not being burned.