Lise LatreilleIcehouse Door (color photograph)

two-legged, erect, talking, even, in audible and intelligible speech
the settlement of poor white trash or “pine rats” infests the southern pines


All night, flakes of ash blow into the barn, sift over
the cranberry pickers. He dreams about the tavern dance,
the woman who laughs, and turns to sphagnum moss

when he touches her, a chain of amber bubbles, sap blisters
on a blackened trunk. The fire that scourged the woods
halted where he cut breaks and plowed deep. What’s thin, 

ragged, and makeshift wards off harm. The bog owner
tells him to scout for salvage, sends him into danger again.
Among burnt trees—tottering, swaying, crazed—

he finds a cluster of pines, charred but upright.
His eyebrows singe. Ants cross the smoldering needles
at his feet, raise up mounds of sand, do not falter

until a sapsucker flashes down, snatches a beakful.
What’s ashen may hasten to sprout. His skin prickles, 
flushes, blooms. The cones ooze resin, open,

and drop their seeds.


William Woolfitt