The fields are burning. Burning lines of straight low fire. Is it allowed now, this razing of the pollarded harvest? Autumn unfurling in slow smoke.
The men watching the darkening sky, watching the lines of low fire off into the distance, the earth alight as far as I can see, their eyes travelling the sky, the horizon. They hand me a lighted taper. But it’s elusive, the childhood dream of arson; my line won’t catch. They laugh their low laughs, laugh and take back the taper and set the lines going, on and on, low flames crossing the earth, paths across the earth.
And the light quieter now, the sky red and black to the touch as we step over and over, the sky red and black behind us, hand in hand, smelling of smoke and something like joy, and of all things, the farmer has given us a cucumber in a brown paper bag. And the low voices of the men as I look back pulled forward, their words painting the evening air, the glow of their cigarettes zig-zagging, arching, dissolving, their invisible eyes following us as we become shadows dissolving. They disappear, we disappear.
She looks askance. The skin is dark and will be bitter. She does not take it from me. The earth now lying under ash and this, after all, a day of small things.