Wildfire by Steve McDonald

The dwarf palm curves up and out from the soil
behind the shoulder-high wall the way the coyote
arches its back and lifts its head to howl
in praise of a kill, curves up and out in light
that wildfires in the hills behind the house
have yellowed orange, and the body is reaching
into the needle-sharp thorns that line each frond,
it is reaching in, the way it awakens each morning
to the needle-sharp flames that curve up then out
from the wildfires of the world, it is reaching
into thorns with its leather-gloved hands
and bare arms in the light of wildfires
yellowed orange, and the palm fronds bend
and arc in the hot wind the way power lines
arc and flash as they fall and the body reaches
into thorns with its leather-gloved hands
and bare arms until it sets the clippers
against the base of one frond so that with one snap
it can slice it off just as the needle-sharp thorn
slides into the arm’s bare flesh the way with one
spark the tinder-dry brush bursts into flames
in the hills behind the house or with one word
the body sets ablaze the dry brush of the world.

Steve McDonald has published two full-length books of poetry and two chapbooks. Credo, his second book, was a finalist in the 2016 Brick Road Poetry Competition, and Golden Fish / Dark Pond, his second chapbook, won the 2014 Comstock Review Chapbook contest. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he has awards from Tupelo Press, Tiferet, Nimrod, Beyond Baroque, Tor House, Passager, Sow’s Ear, and others, including Best New Poets. His poetry has appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Boulevard, Rhino, Nimrod, The Atlanta Review, RATTLE, The Crab Creek Review, The Paterson Literary Review, Spillway, and elsewhere. He lives with his wife, Marlyle, in Murrieta, California, and can be contacted at www.stevemcdonaldpoetry.com