Michael Lauchlan: Not by Ice

Notice, you ask in your stunning way,
pointing at a shape the fire has cut

in a night that hangs just above its pit.
But how to translate a tongue of flame

to the combustible page and how,
in the midst of drama, to not pretend

that what’s burning is more than coals,
that smoke rises to praise or appease

gods we can’t remember or name,
that smoke suggests our souls, soon
departed, or the exhalation of a regime’s

last breath. How to see only a fugue–
heat and time and air offering up a dance
as lithe and vaulting quick as death.


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