Seasons in our state are covert, though
certain trees shed. We’d see a difference in color
on leaves, and those would be the ones to drop.
One Halloween we chose to let stay
on the stove a pot with one hellraiser clove-
studded blood orange wading in leftover
cider and cinnamon bark to slowly spice
the rooms for weeks. Letting its blend
age and vapor to fragrance was a way to savor
named waste. We drank what we could
of those days: oily hours dwelled in wide-armed,
possessed of shy loves, thickening and
sometimes recognized. The rest is ether. Run
over pots would plume to break window spells.
We were left to gather
fruit and sun-dried spice. It was up to us
to boil the mixture and survive whatever
scent lingered. Past what papers cared cover,
we mattered. Car fires flashed on screens, fuming
that year a burned flavor. News tuned into what
we’d long known, made their little bread off our
bodies, ground. Months of this had us feeling too spent
for marches, at times, even to weep. Most smoke
was the law’s. Most fire. Our gatherings were gassed.
Vigils of ours were lit and left. Though we could believe,
we couldn’t. We were given the more we could take none of.
Holidays, we strung through. On some, we worked.
On some, raised hell in the name of us.
We kept the air
of our homes, then, tinged
with festivity we tried—
A reminder to return to.
We kept breathing
the bitter to live.