Poetry 2017 / Spring 2017 / Volume 48

Balefire—Denton Loving

The crimson king maple blows

in high winds, burns with October’s

beautiful death. Before my confused eyes,

leaves piled at the tree’s base form

wings, take flight and fall upwards.

A reversal of everything I know.

These small, light birds flash

grayish white undersides

before disappearing into

the crimson king’s flames.


Maybe they are

what field guides call

confusing fall warblers.

Maybe they are

some kind of finch,

but there are too many species

for my untrained eye.

Peterson’s doesn’t state

which birds have enough magic

to fly into fire.

Science is silent on why

some blazes appear as signal beacons

though they were built

as funeral pyres.

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