Every time he leaves, I hear his death. This morning while my consciousness nudged his and they agreed just five more minutes I imagined the phone call. And I thought I'd better start now, kissing him goodbye. The last one shared beneath wildfire skies in this latest hottest summer. This morning particulate levels went red again, which is 'stay inside.' (Imagine this seriously.) My city is taking trophies for pollution and we pray for rain. I conjure his breath. Another endangered species. At afternoon, the long-desired shift. The scent of rain arriving is the rattle of my beloved's key in the lock of the long-parched house. But he's not returned. Don't you imagine that I would rather be wrong? Then he's there to kiss my forehead and my breath restarts. Tomorrow is September, middle age, 8 billion humans. I am not burning, today. But always: the smoke.
Originally published in The Clackamas Literary Review, 2019