Ann Neuser Lederer


Night, Day One:

Yet, absent access. No house, after all,
no strings of seasonal cheer,
but blaze of wind-downed trees.
Dark red in dark field.
Sparks shiver, as though electric.

Twilight, Day Two:

Not taken by surprise, this time.
Tracking its furious core,
its full solar crush.
Follows my wondering glance,
divines me as the iced rains douse.

Night, Day Two:

Cyclops tails my slow. Drizzle evolves to sleet
By god, it still glows.
Glowers in its pumpkin. Frowns distinctly
from its flimsy distance,
slashed for effect.

Twilight, Day Three:

Dim radio in preparation.
The swerve, the steel, the miss
the oncoming while peering. Blackbirds
erupt in warning, swarming the road
from above.

Night, Day Three:

In interim, pity. Blanket it,
as horses staying out. When mists persist.
Luring off course, as phosphorescence.
Fog faints it tonight,
a burning under earth for years.
Hunkers, its wither more fierce.

Dawn, Day Four:

To sorrow's smoulder, in imagination.
In danger, vigil abandoned.
Abashed memorial to dread.
To early hour, to fog, to crash, to fear,
to fabrications.
Where it has warded away.

Morning, Day Four:

Approaching it. Approaching.
After all these elements, will there be even one
hot coal buried in the ash. Already
envisioned sodden gray poultice, the glance
away. Two piles of charred logs. No
signs of life. Look though, out yonder, farther.
A swirl of low smoke, and flash. It breathes
still, despite the steady wet. Its throat in quiet
groan. The soggy turf now only hints of white.
All melts, and it with it. Anticipates the night.
Its molten simmer murmurs.


How long this thing lingers. Fog in the pit,
and what it takes to squelch it. Hands clutch
cold wheel, and watching out for children.


I don't want to check anymore. I want
to stop keeping up. I want to slam shut
the lock, obsession, the track of its wane,
its fits of sputter. Like any lover to remember
its embers as they were. Of that brain trick,
on that first night, on that steep shoulderless road
with its lit hut and phantom path. I no
longer look.


"Field Fire Field Notes" is a daily record of an intentional field fire in the bluegrass region of Kentucky. As a visiting hospice nurse in a county still bordered by miles of rolling thoroughbred horse farms, I have learned to cope with the trials of my occupation by keeping an eye on the hauntingly peaceful landscape while I travel around. Another stress management technique is swimming a mile of laps each day at the local Y. A particular narrow country road, shoulderless and curved, winding between the horse farms, is a favorite route. Returning from my swim one dark evening, I was surprised by an unexpected glow in the distance, where I knew no houses or trailer lurked. The slow discovery of its source, and my increasing obsession with its evolution, eventually became the piece, based on notes jotted at varying times while driving or approaching the ever-changing fire.