Jin Zhu, Orange (photograph)


She was too thin, too mortal,
limbs reaching out into air. 
This is what Semele saw:
what is kindled, what is spent. 
The fire is depletion,
the result of the thing spent.
Self-revelation is fatal. 
It cannot self-sustain.
This is why the wick
is always throwing the fire
off in the direction of nowhere,
seeking a less-devouring flame.
Still, things are not lost,
but distributed.  This is the point
at which we all become inheritors.
I am reading a text in which
the Latin phrase ‘stirring up ashes’
contains all the letters necessary
to spell fire.  It self-sustains.
A certain symmetry in that.
I seek only to reassemble the mantle
that once surrounded the body.
A handful of shell
grit from deep water
contains parts of as many
as five hundred separate
species, one hundred
of which have yet to be named.


Emily Viggiano Saland