Share https://www.terrain.org/mp3/2017/nov/Axelrod_Okanagan.mp3Late August in the Okanagan In the wake of the fire front the stench of ashes, skeletal pines,steers and ponies—seared obscenities—lying on their sides bloated, dotting paddocks.Teenage boys sit inside an idling sedan at the station and cannot believe their luck,having found a homeless girl, who, though she puts on a hard, brave face, cannot refuse.She stares straight ahead at nothing, pretends she is invulnerable and they are notmerciless. We belong to no other family and this idea of ourselves insidea fireproof house. Think of us sitting here as fire sweeps through cheatgrass, as bitterbrushexplodes, the heat turned back by mud walls and tempered glass. Think of us in this room,in a world that caught fire, each of us crazy to open the door and throw ourselves into flames. https://www.terrain.org/mp3/2017/nov/Axelrod_Fire.mp3Just North of the Windy Ridge FireIn the lee of evening, in the apocalyptic glowat dusk,the candled trees rain ashes onto mossbelow a spring,whose monkeyflowers cast a deeper hue of yellowin scattered light.Ten years ago we sowed the beloved’s cremainshere, a grey cloudfanning out over white sand, the freshet carrying herinto the lake,where she sank into the calmer diffusions of blue.Tonight,when we spark the spirit dish, it flares like a torch,and draws to usagile little brown bats who swarm from the cavesin boulder fields,who hunt in the smoke that shrouds the lake,their wings—blood-veined and soft as a newborn’s wrist—brushour faces in the dark. David Axelrod is the editor of Sensational Nightingales: The Collected Poetry of Walter Pavlich (Lynx House Press). His new collection of poems, The Open Hand, is published by Lost Horse Press. Other work appears or is forthcoming in About Place, American Poetry Journal, Cape Rock, CrazyHorse, The Hopper, Hubbub, Miramar.Read poetry by David Axelrod previously appearing in Terrain.org.Header photo of wildfire on mountain ridge by skeeze, courtesy Pixabay.