The fire gnawed the grasslands to bone-cracked earth on the way to our village. We hoped the lake would save us, the buckets of life we hauled from the shore, the trenches of dirt we overturned, the drenched rooftops.

We saw it writhing across the plane, rivers of light beneath rainless billows, bound for our storehouses, our livestock, our children. We beat at embers, singed our skirts, lost our hats in the breach. We unmoored our fishing boats and cast ourselves on the mercy of the inflammable.

The lake became a cloistered room of steam and sodden embers, roof of smoke, wringing the breath from our throats. We drenched aprons and handkerchiefs, tied them round our sons and daughters, round their ash-flecked faces.

When our rowboats scrape the shore, the ground is still hot, patched with guttering flames. The soles of our boots melt. The stones by the lake are blackened and cracked, and the cattle have vanished to ash. The evening is yellow and gray with smoldering.

We remember the purple flowers that flourished by the water, the grass that tumbled toward the shore. We remember the woods across the lake, its mosses and mushrooms, its birds’ nests, its deer.

We remember that the fish are still in the lake, and the boats are in the lake, and our sons and daughters lie sleeping in the boats.


by Brianne Holmes

Brianne Holmes lives and writes in Greenville, NC. Her work has appeared in the Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature and Art, in which she was also named the featured writer in 2012. She has a piece forthcoming in the Journal of Microliterature. Currently, she serves as an editorial assistant for the North Carolina Literary Review.

Listed at Duotrope
Listed with Poets & Writers
CLMP Member
List with Art Deadline
Follow us on MagCloud