Oil and Ash

by Michael Bazzett

Michael Bazzett

What’s organic emits carbon when burned so animal
dung or dried seaweed picked from rocks or a child left
too long in the sun will all eventually rise toward the place
we used to think god lived: among the clouds on a big chair.

So apparently it’s come to this: the way to save the sky is sell
the sky to those who would release ash into it, through pipes.

I understand this economically, and I’d rather not
mention the resemblance to prostitution, but when I open my
mouth it also fills with something called sky, each inhalation
drags sky across the fine hairs of my nostrils stirring them

in patterns resembling the locomotion of centipedes.
The inverted trees of my lungs filter sky into blood a shade

darker than a cardinal, blood so red it seems it should sing.
The seashell whorls of my ears hold barely two-thimbles-
worth of sky but without those twin pockets of stratosphere
thrumming my drums the world would fall as silent as a world

where they had inexplicably fed their own kind into steel machines.
Later, visiting archaeologists might ponder what had driven them

to do such a thing? There might be conjecture about belief systems
or native religions but for the first thousands of years there would be
nothing but the sound of ash sifting through dried leaves, a sound that is
in some ways similar—but also different—from the sound of falling snow.

Last updated August 21, 2022