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“11 Miles NW of Cle Elum”

Fuels involved:Timber (litter and understory), short grass, brush,

>with a large amount of standing and dead trees

—inciweb.nwcg.gov

Today I see the sky. In Old Norse, it was a shadow. Today, my seeing it is an air quality accomplishment. Particulate matter, ozone improved.Today I see the overstory arcing my insomnia. Just dawn and five hours awake, I categorize the fuels involved: short grass, brush, litter, my ripped-apart sky heart. In Gothic, it was “mirror.” Awake for five months, I categorize my sleep- states into those that came before and those that came after. Fuels involved: your four shirts. Fuels involved: how you say words you don’t know how to say, your mouth making parentheticals like clouds. In Germanic, sky was “clouds.” I remember at thirteen, saying shaw-fewer for chauffeur. Saying hores-dee-avores for hors d’oeuvres. Under a different mirror, the disaster was floods—where could we go so we parked the cars up the hill, dragged the furniture upstairs. So much I could not pronounce. In Middle English, it can mean both “cloud” and “heaven.” Today I can voice things with your eyes in my mind, though in person would be better. Or worse? You’re still waking me up. Fuels involved: dopamine, norepinephrine, histamine, and acetylcholine, the whole mountain burning down. How are you sleeping?, or riding, or walking, or cataloguing your accomplishments? How are you just easy with that beer? My air quality insomniac. I say you are a thrilling fire of standing and dead trees and what I mean is you have seared me to tendrils.To shreds. A lump of hors d’oeuvres on a spit of sand. Sky, from the root skeu: to cover, conceal.What I mean is I am the fuel.What I mean is let me close my eyes. I would burn. I would fall into a canyon. I would be even a dead tree, my ringed middle cataloguing drought. I have been awake under this terrible sky for so long, I hardly remember water.

from Poetry Northwest 13.1 Summer & Fall 2018More by Maya Jewell Zeller from the library

Copyright © Maya Jewell Zeller
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

Published in Maya Jewell Zeller Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.