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  • When I close my eyes, charred black columns of ghost forest trees
    shimmer pale on the insides of my eyelids. Even in sleep, I smell
    the old smoke clinging to soil, char of trunk, memory of burning
    leaves and needles. As I fall back into darkness and then into new light,
    restless forms take shape. Here the spirits of flamed trees
    linger to nurture the fire seeds they left behind, here the ghosts of deer,
    foxes, bear and squirrels roam, visible only as faint smears at first.
    My eyes, rolled back to where the bones of my head become transparent,
    envision the spot where an elk lay down to die. In the morning, I find
    the skull, with its spreading antlers. The first pine seedling of the new forest
    touches the burned bleached cheekbone of death. I touch it too,
    and though I want to take it, I leave it to nurture and keep company
    with new life.

    Mary Stebbins Taitt
    for Richard Keeling and Ruth Schwartz
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