Country Life
Phebe Davidson

The neighbors barbecue, burn waste, 
worship smoke, smoke weed when they can

afford to. They all breathe deep the accessible                    
air, talk of fires they have seen: a burning

car at the interstate’s edge, pastures that go up
fanned by August winds, wildfires crowding

woods. One night, their house flared just like
a dream, three a.m. and silent, lighting 

the night like we’d never seen, till the roof just
swelled and caved in on itself. Sirens cut 

night to shreds. The woman started to scream. 
Her husband steered her across the street, 

slapped her the once to settle her down. No one 
said the word arson then, but somebody 

loved the burn too much. Giggled. Dropped a
gas can in the ditch. The news didn’t say 

much about it, just noted the family needed help, 
would be glad for whatever folks could give. 

The next night they grilled on the smoking slab, 
bunked the kids in a tent.  Marshmallows.

Hot dogs.Nothing strange. A charcoal smell like 
camping out. Then everything faded away.

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