Pops, and a series of loud bangs. The gas cap of a grey van is dark with soot and flapped open; where it’s parked, a little flame flickers at the base of an elm. The alley is veiled in smoke. A fire truck pulls up. Someone must have called. But whoever set off bottle rockets is gone. My mother-in-law says she saw three teenagers sprinting for the avenue. The fire is quickly doused. Hours after, the air has the unmistakable undertone of gunpowder. This is not something you necessarily smell in gunpowder tea, which is a form of green tea produced in certain provinces of China. Tea-pickers roll each leaf into small round pellets resembling ammunition. The harder and shinier they are when dried, the better flavor they impart when steeped briefly in hot, not boiling, water: not a lacerating bitterness, but a smoky mellow drift from leaves gathered just before sunrise, when the fog has not yet lifted from the ground.
In dreams, conflagrations
make me seek the cooler side
of cotton pillows.
In response to Via Negativa: Dreamtime.