Smoke - barely anything you can see, no more than what breath from a kitten on a cold, dry winter's day would look like if you got down close enough to see the wee puffs escape its mouth. There's smoke, honest, and there was a fire, and now there's just smoke again. At some point you have to trust me on this, trust that I know what the fuck I'm talking about standing here with a box of matches missing a couple, showing two (or is it three - they overlap?) scrapes from yellow-stained phosphorous tips. Trust that kerosene does not explode the way gas does, that it is practically diesel and is stubborn to light.
There's also black crust for as far as you can see, all firm the way sugar gets after you've cooked it in a heavy pot slow enough to caramelize and then let cool; crust covering curves and ripples that used to glow verdant with life, that used to smell good - even better than butter and sugar cooked bubbly on the stove. Earth heaved from heat sounds remniscent of snow crusted with sleet and rain when I step on it, but oh-so-far from anything like snow. With that critchy-crunchy sound my feet make walking heel-to-toe, searching for survivors -- I could close my eyes and think, it is snow!
Bamboo stakes stand at angles; a rat wire lattice holds a few butterbeans in its grip. I think about spiders and flies looking at them. They taste good, blackened. Not great, but good. I eat them all and trample the stakes flat, spelling my name inside a heart stomped into the char, an unhappy valentine. I note how he used peat moss layered with old, watered down newsprint, creating a phylo stratification designed to hold water and heat and explained the crust. Clever. A tip - something I'd copy next spring when time comes to plant my own garden.
I wish it was dark right now, like pitched black, moonless dark. I'm thinking there would be spotty embers and hellish glow beneath me if it were only night time.
It was a reaction, a quick kick to the guts of my neighbor after he aimed his floodlight one time too many at my bedroom window. He gardened, you see. He is a gardener, and one day, after he moves, he'll probably lay out a garden similar to the one behind his house where I'm standing now, where I'm thinking about peeing, considering the charred lillies and why it is he had to aim that goddamned light right at my house, my bedroom, my head.