He stirred the coals of my dwindling campfire. We were alone. Blue tendrils of smoke punctuated the Mesozoic haze like a scene from Jonny Quest. Up and down the basin Americans smoldered. The tent flap behind us fell open meaningfully and my voice was low, I’m unnerved now by what I confided. His hand at rest on my knee. We camped at the edge of a rain forest that hissed like a plane crash, like the mouth of a beast. Tangled and treacherous. Our ways on the eve of battle—tender and lit from within. This is the last time, I whispered. I can’t keep caring this much, either way.
Kathleen Flenniken is the 2012 – 2014 Washington State poet laureate. Her collection Plume (University of Washington, 2012) was a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America and won the Washington State Book Award. Famous (University of Nebraska, 2006) won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize and was named an ALA Notable Book.