Reading the Book of Isaiah While Wild Fires Continue to Burn

Jory Mickelson

It is summer and my church
is made of birds

winged god
in lenticular view, as if to define

ape could set
a form, a boundary to

the fathomless, a name

made of syllables lifted
to blue rudiment.

The seraphs were proto-
types for six-legged flyers:

sweat bee, salmon fly, hooktip moth,
caught in the hem, a hymn

of his robe, wind greening through leaves.

Then a raiment: “to array,”
to be adorned with rain.

We adore water amid drought,
how dryness precipitates

a leaner devotion:
the narrow path amid dust

or needle duff and still

from May to August the bark
beetle works its faith

cloistered to the inner gallery
of fir, until it too

has earned its glorious
crown. We want

the holy heat without

the flame. Isaiah warned
that at the sound

of the angels’ voices, the thresholds
shook, the temple filled

with smoke—that no winged thing
can save. That the lengthening

of days may also be the end.

italicized line from “Susurrus Stanzas” by Brian Teare in Companion Grasses

Jory Mickelson is a writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Court Green, Mid-American Review, The Rumpus, Ninth Letter, and other journals. They are the recipient of an Academy of American Poet’s Prize and have received fellowships from the Lambda Literary Foundation and The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. Their first full-length collection WILDERNESS//KINGDOM is the inaugrual winner of the Evergreen Award Tour from Floating Bridge Press and a 2020 High Plains Book Award Finalist. They live in the Pacific Northwest.

Originally published in Moss: Volume Seven.

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