Stripped in a flamedance, the bluff backing our houses
quivered in wet-black skin. A shawl of haze tugged tight
around the starkness. We could have choked on August.
Smoke thick in our throats, nearly naked as the earth,
we played bare feet over the heat caught in asphalt.
Could we, green girls, have prepared for this? Yesterday,
we played in sand-carpeted caves. The store we built
sold broken bits of ice plant, empty snail shells, leaves.
Our school’s walls were open sky. We reeled in wonder
from the hills, oblivious to the beckoning
crescendo and to our parent’s hushed communion.
When our bluff swayed into the undulation, we ran
into the still streets of our suburb, feet burning
against a fury that we did not know was change.
Camille Dungy, "First Fire" from What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison. Copyright 2006 Camille Dungy. Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.
Source: What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (
Red Hen Press