A string of flame in the dead grass
moves slowly past the posts,
nibbling its way across the field,
against the wind.
I have burned a back swath
on the north side of the pasture
to keep the fire on this side
of good relations with the neighbors,
a safe strip to lessen the likelihood
of a jump.
In the standing grass,
bleached and dried by months of winter,
the fire makes a splintering sound
as blades burst from the heat.
In the matted sections,
it creeps along,
sometimes skipping the places
where the last of melting snow
left it wet beneath the covering.
The last bits of color
brush the edges of curling clouds
as I spread fire
along the southern side nearest the house,
trailing embers from the tines of the rake.
The breeze pulses then surges
and the flames dance and flicker
across the stems,
flaring at the thicker places
but by now
the northern half of the field
is already blackened
and there is nothing left
to fuel the fire.
Smoke drifts into the darkening sky
as I walk the edges
to be sure the night will be safe
for myself and others
and leave the field
strangely ready for green and growing.