Spell to Turn the World Around
Music by Kamala Sankaram
Text by Kathryn Smith
For baritone and piano
Begin each day collecting birds battered
in the night by creatures bent on malice.
Give thanks for dew and viscera's bright litter,
leaves brought down by drought and feathers damp
with blood. When you say you love fall, be sure
you know it's death's season. Take shallow
breaths, reminding you of summer's smoke,
a wildfire bruise that locked us all inside.
Cling to warm October afternoons
as vow to live a waterless winter.
Drive cross-state to the firefighter's grave
and read the poem he memorized at 17,
three years before flames overtook the vehicle
he rode in, trying to reach disaster.