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Fireweed

I'm in a rowboat. I reach the shore of an island,
walk toward a fire, quick and bright. Take woodshingles,
hold them flat over the fire, warming my palms. As the
wood flames, I realize I'm dreaming about teaching.

Teaching this class is convincing people they have a right
to speak their minds. It is saying write like lightning
then judge. I see each new group caught in terror of form
as if that were the only question. I ask what holds you
back from writing and an older man says, "Verbs, verbs,
the past tense grips me." A woman says, "It is too easy,
didn't take hours, so it must be nothing." Who taught
us our images don't live and breathe?

Added to all this, that images are the livewire sparks
between opposites, a bridge that smokes between people.
And that those most pushed down have the most to say,
in images, shouts, actions, all just under the smooth
velour of the manufactured stories. Images leap out
of contradiction, blasting the true story into breath.

I'm in a field my father gardened. The garden is wild.
Deep in berries and long grass. Four people from my class
are here. We set up a table and chairs. We play cards
with a translucent deck. The cards, slips of plastic,
rest on our palms like windows. I draw a picture, though
I don't know how. The sketch outlines a fierce, strong
woman. Her short hair is dark and shining. Her face
is lined and spare. I try to fill in the cropped edge
of her hair where it meets her neck. I try again and
again to charcoal in the lines of her high cheekbones.
When I turn back toward the class, my arms overflow
with purple-red flowers from the Cascades called Fireweed.