California is burning & already the woods
where I first learned to love you
have withered, grayed. Last year
when fires rimmed the perimeter
of our city, we followed
in their wake, hiking
the underside of Mt. Diablo,
& what was left by then already
blackened to polish, to mythic ash.
At dusk we took a picture,
but our phones couldn’t register
the lights of our distant city, so we stand smiling
before a black backdrop. A year ago
I barely knew you & now I picture
all the ways I could lose you—
what virions might already be
multiplying in your cells; what truck,
running an intersection, might barrel
over yours; what I might say
if I only had one sentence to say it.
Metaphor will be the first to go.
To walk through the moon’s sea,
I told you on that hike, might look
like this—this burnt mountainside,
this Pompeiian aftermath,
lacquered to veneer. How here
we, like two astronauts, bob.
How here we, like two satans, patrol
the outer ring of hell’s topography.
How I will love you through
prize & peril. Some Scheherazade
I’ve become, some Persephone,
telling you lies, yarn
after yarn, to keep you alive.