In the fifth hour of migraine,
I imagine that the hard south wind
shouldering the pine tree against the house
is a river, and that I in my bed in the darkened room,
on my back and motionless to keep the pain from waking,
am in a narrow boat, a canoe or driftboat, or that I am Ishmael
in Queequeg’s coffin carried away from the wreck, hanging on
in the sea waves churned by the great whale’s fury, but I know
the hot wind stirs not water but fire, and that this autumn
the world is burning, is divided merely into the burned
and the yet-to-be burned, and I smell the scent of smoke,
but that is the migraine, and the ringing phone again
and again ignites my head in showers of sparks,
the metallic voices sounding the warnings
of this inflamed political season,
the fire outside my door.
Pepper Trail is a poet, photographer, and professional biologist whose poems have appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Borderlands, Windfall, Ascent, and other publications. Pepper has published three collections, Flight Time, An Empty Bowl, and Cascade-Siskiyou: Poems, which was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. He lives in Ashland, Oregon, where he finds reasons for hope in the beauty that remains.
Header photo by vladseagull, courtesy Shutterstock.