After months watching for fires at the lookout alone,
it was impossible for her to stomach the blackberries
and sweet cream her sister brought to share while visiting.
The range of her world had narrowed as she focused
long days on the Bitterroot's distances. In the absence
of complex tastes, a blackberry was suddenly worlds
without end: nothing so taken for granted you can't
lose yourself to it once it's gone. Even now, years later,
her sister can't stop dwelling on the fire that left her
family with nothing but each other. A dwelling that
only intensifies. As certain fires do. New Year's Eve
on the strip, my friend orders drinks for an entire bar
with his credit card. It is hard not to forget, at fourteen,
he burned his family ranch on accident. Another friend
in high school razed half of a million acres of federal land
with Roman candles. Yesterday he announced his cancer
at stage four. I am at this distance. I'm only telling you
what's there, more mist than spire, then pillar of the sky.
What's here, in front of me, given me, is harder to register.
As it is is too much. I can feel each dark bright cell coming
apart on my tongue. So much so I can feel my tongue
itself. Its own undoing. Narrow bitterroot reduced.