L. A. Johnson


In the middle of the drought, a late-season fire
burns through dusty and decadent vegetation,

wind driving the flames relentlessly toward the Pacific.
Dry lightning ignites the dense chaparral

that grew arid as kindling after decades
of suppression. Red instincts cannot be contained.

In the month of marriages, we loosed our attachment
to maps. You left your car by the reservoir after

you smelled the smoke on me. Honey slid
from the spoon. A California house was cast-off.

The cure: water. For us to jump in the ocean
with our clothes still on. Submerged in saltwater,

my hair will curl again, how it used to a girl ago,
when the curls coiled taut like fronds of palms.

The circulation will slow inside your body,
reality collapses into a different possibility.

Afterwards we'll forget what happened, the scissors
and the stones. I will present to you wildflowers,

gift of freedom. The fires will continue. I know
there isn’t a world that will reverse for us.