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Candace Pearson: California Poets Part 6, Two Poems

Candace Pearson

October 18th, 2023

California Poets: Part VI

Candace Pearson

Two Poems

Fire in the Estuary

I left the country of fire to test myself in the country of waters sink my feet in Baja Norte let the sea curl around me far from the fear of flames in the mountains I call home

but someone is setting fire to the estuary that ribbons through the valley below my temporary exile. A friend on the hill opposite calls to say, Look out your window and I see

smoke signals rise in a universal language. I traveled here to speak cormorant and sandpiper, not la lengua de fuego. Now a match has been struck in the mangrove trees and I wonder is this

the fire I’ve been waiting for? As a child I daydreamed of igniting my family’s house everyone inside except me. Sometimes I imagined planting a bomb, watching from across the street

as each window flashed. No one, not fireman or cop, noticed me walk away clean into a new life I didn’t know then what I suspect now that even in the ashes there may be no redemption.

The Request

When you said you wanted me to drive your dead body to the forest in the back of our truck, dig a hole with pick and garden shovel and roll you in naked as moon and star looked the other way, reverent or simply discreet,

I said no.

I could tell you thought our compact violated. After all, wouldn’t we do anything for each other? Almost. That qualifier creeping in like a quisling. How would I evade the rangers, I asked, reveling bears? Jail?

You shrugged. Trivial. You who pictured yourself under a blanket of earthworm and crumpled leaf, climbing out each night to sit at grave’s edge, commune with bobcat and fox over riotous fairy stories. I am sorry

for valuing my freedom over yours as I sit in this pale anteroom until the undertaker hands me a plastic box, your name penciled in. You see, I whisper, you will still be one with the earth. Even the breeze shuns my breath,

my platitude. Every union’s a rickety system of balances and imbalances, give and give, betray, how do we ever hold a plumb line, bodies of balsa wood and loose feather somersaulting, wondering where, oh where, we’ll land.

Author Bio:

Candace Pearson jettisoned big city life for the mountains of Southern California. She uses the quiet to write poems that have appeared in fine journals across the U.S. and beyond its borders. Her full-length collection, Hour of Unfolding, won the Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry from Longwood University.


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