By Claire Unis

A haze filters the morning sun,
hanging like smoke,
a stench
wending its way
into consciousness.

Even in the shower, my nose hairs prickle.

There are moments
of distraction.
But though a breeze may lift the heavy cloak,
we know it is there,
waiting to descend again.

We take what we can get.

Bird song, when it happens,
sweetens a moment.
Fellowship in the face of such
offers brief respite.
The sun still shines, milky and dull
offering reassuring rhythm
one can resist

Like animals we tend our basic needs,
eating to stave off hunger,
wrapping ourselves around our young,
murmuring reassurances
we need to hear.

Fires burn out, we say.
This is temporary, we promise.

But at night,
when the weight of it settles,
we pinch our wooden limbs,
whether flames
are coming.

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