One curl of smoke, black. One flash of feathers, white.
Yesterday’s gnarled stand of dense green undergrowth – a sweating warren where the ticking tree frogs and cackling crickets sweetly serenaded the shadows playing upon my back porch – today lies smoldering and silent.
Sometime after dusk, curved blades were drawn. Torches, kindled.
Safe behind our panes of glass we witnessed barbed sparks being thrust into piles of soft brown tinder – smoking brands snapping and tumbling into russet-colored flame – and finally as forest ruptured into roaring conflagration red and meteoric every living thing with a means fled. And the rest – the rest burned and burned and burned through the blackness bewildered as we watched.
Near dawn charcoal smoldered where a garrison of sparrows once shattered the horizon with their heart-song.
Hunger’s hollow howl. That is why the morning is so silent.
When the sky lightens, the machete men will return worn-handled weapons writhing between threadbare legs and calloused feet. They will rake the char field; stroking, staking, scissoring hopeful handfuls of seeds into callow, stout-faced furrows. Soon, a starred field of melons will bask belly-up in the sun. Naked, obscene, panting and perspiring through the heavy summer afternoons, sated and content, coiling fat tendrils around earth’s ashen, fractured fingers, scarred skins glistening as twilight lingers.……………….But first,
like a curl of black smoke, in a flash of white feathers a snowy egret – coy and angelic alights with a cry – a last wild note at the sight of majesty evacuating blazes away astride the newly-crested Sun blazes away from the absent Eden blazes towards the distance, the growing grey haze.