Fire Trees

See the fuzz of cinnabar moth caterpillars
on the trees, thick as human hair? Be careful
when you gather leaves at their base

for burning— One fell near my nape
and rested there all day, quiet
as a regular burr. At night my skin

burned hotter than a drum of coal,
grew blistered from the itch that spread
like fire. I cannot remember where I stood:

next to the guava? the avocado tree?
the perishing lime? They said Button
your shirt all the way to the collar,

girl. I did, dutiful as a curl of smoke.
But past the gate, out on my own,
my fingers loosened the stays.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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