Poem by Candace Pearson
There is a body inside the body
inside the body, each more
vulnerable than the last.
What is that body? A shell,
a shield, a shawl.
Protector and foolhardy disguise.
Fire season: smoke from flaming trees
floats for miles across
dry streambeds and mountain passes.
The Chinese doctor is teaching me to draw
the toxins from deep inside you
with the ancient art of moxibustion.
She shows me how to light the charcoal stick
of mugwort, hold it close (not too
close) to your skin and keep the burning ember
from dropping. At home I wave figure eights
above your spine, gray trails sketch the air.
A cinder tumbles down and you flinch.
This is too intimate, this laying on of hands
to leach the dark matter through your pores.
There is another body impervious to damage.
In the garden, news of coming fire. All day
ash keeps falling, papering the roses
with bits of condolence cards.
Candace Pearson won the Liam Rector First Book of Poetry Prize from Longwood University for her book “Hour of Unfolding.” Her poems have been published in fine journals and anthologies nationwide, including Beyond Forgetting: Poetry & Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease. She works by flashlight in a 100-year-old hiker’s cottage in the foothills north of Los Angeles.