By Anna Huttar

Tangled, twisted carpet, shreds of grass
Folded together into clumps of death—
The fodder for a raging appetite,
A carcass for the prairie’s ravening crow.

The hungry flames come, lick the barren land,
Taste crippled grass with dainty, cultured sense—
When once the taste is given, nothing more
Can halt the charge of charring, rapt advance.

Harsh-glowing coals have caught the crispened stalks
And stripped them, leaving soft ash dust behind.
Prairie swept clean, left flat, lies stricken stark,
Blackened and bruised, and unrelieved by tree.

Yet burning does not mean the prairie’s end,
For when the flames have had their fill, the soil
Receives into its heart survivor seeds
Till, Proserpinan, they escape the ground.

When once the grass gets loose, it tears along
As fast as did the flames that killed it then
And licks the countryside with verdant tongue
Till all the world erupts in greening song.