Ode to the College Poem Where I Compared the Tillamook Burn to My Love – by Merridawn Duckler

I got the year wrong
and also the extent, 335k acres.
Who can think so long and loud at twenty.
The imprint was on my skull
like a Lichtenberg, words run amok in me.

Now I learned it was started by old wood
dragged across dry logs.
Would have been handy to know that then,
how desire feeds on itself.
The loggers had rakes and hoes,

the fire had the intent of nature,
which is destructive,
as a love, that will always go to ground for you.
It burned a long time, the bad poem
with a good title.

That Earth Day Three we went to re-seed
and I walked the Burn in my tight jeans,
smoking unfiltered Camel’s,
flinging the bent seedlings down,
as far from the home-wrecker

as I am now, a woman in her Fiat through the forest
where winter loses to spring, the white mist
webbed between fir caught in our throats
like signal smoke, like ash rain,
like an early kiss that rearranges the known world.


Merridawn Duckler is a writer from Oregon, author of Interstate (dancing girl press) and Idiom (Washburn Prize, Harbor Review.) New work in Seneca Review, Posit, Plume, Painted Bride Quarterly. Winner of the 2021 Beullah Rose Poetry Contest from Smartish Pace. Fellowships include Yaddo, Southampton Poetry Conference, Poets on the Coast, Napa Valley Writers Conference. She’s an editor at Narrative and the philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics.