For John Berger
Fire is spreading down the hill, across the floor of the pine woods. It advances like a carnivore masticating, no surcease. They walk through the smoke with their pots and jugs and pails, over ground turned to ash. They seek out the gouts of flame, pour the water in a boil of gray steam and burnt parchment tatters of the dead.
They go back to the stream for more. Their skin is painted with charcoal and ash. They soak their feet in the cold flow, the soles blistered, the heat still in them. The water is the color of bloodless flesh.