The pines here are incendiaries: not
content to wait for conflagration,
they brim themselves with pitch,
living torches spoiling to be lit,
dry needles kindling on the sandy soil,
cones hard, uncrackable except
by fire, seeds dormant till released by flames,
to fall unchallenged on the flame-cleared
ground. The trees don’t mind being scorched,
as long as the barrens can be swiftly
re-sown by their progeny, hardy, reckless, fully
as combustible as themselves.
Winifred Hughes is the author of Nine-Bend Bridge, winner of the 2015 Red Berry Editions chapbook contest, and Frost Flowers, a chapbook of nature poems forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Atlanta Review, and Appalachia, among other journals. “Dyslexic” was recorded for the Poetry Foundation’s permanent audio archive.