1. FIVE DEGREES
Somewhere a man with expensive eyeglasses
parses the smell of water
from a shelf of small clear tubes.
He is precise and the perfume
will keep its scent, even
when it dries.
This is true.
it costs a lot of money.
But you won’t understand that now.
This day. Dew like birthright.
Ditches and driveways
with their flat shiny puddles.
Wet skin of the morning. The wrist
of it. The neck.
2. NINETEEN DEGREES
You want to dip your fingers into something
and lick them: thumb finger finger finger finger.
Tall grass heating in the afternoon.
That place from your childhood, the one
you remember by smell, is just around the
corner. Every corner.
This one. Surely
3. THIRTY-SIX DEGREES
Government man calls the forest logs.
We have to save the logs, he says.
Lightning looks down with its big dry mouth:
Tinder. Kindling. Hard little nipples of wood.
All those names and no shade.
You test the thin edge of stillness against your finger.
Black spruce, aspen, lodgepole, birch.
Timber. Cutblock. Fuel type—
I’ll call you whatever you want if you take off your shirt.
Say it for me:
Greed. Fingers. Precipice. Pine-pitch. Ignition.
Published online January 10 2008.