A Poem for Sunday
Smoke has been the sign of human settlement
ever since Prometheus’ defiant act,
ever since people settled down to roasting,
torching, scorching and cremating, ever since
human history began its smoldering.
The pale blue smoke of campfires and
the black smoke of plunder, burning stakes,
and crematoria; they both have stained the sun
and its starry vault in this accustomed homey hue.
Puffing on a cigarette I’m sitting high up on a hill,
watching limpid supper smoke weave its way
from the valley across the reclining sunrays;
but it’s the sickening fume of burning brains
that tickles my memory for taste and smell.
Could they be burning books somewhere?