Scoundrel Time


A splash of gasoline, a match,
my brother poking it with a shovel.

I was too young to have an opinion
yet knew it was wrong.

Even if the haystack pile of it
grew each day more troubling

beside the swingset, beside the prim
lines of carrots in the garden.

A gush of smoke, that acrid
stink of their dying—and then finished.

I trailed back later
to check the fuming wreckage,

discovered a highway of ants
crawling deeper into the woods.

Thousands, some lumbering eggs
on their backs, a frantic jumble

punctuated with tiny sticks, bits of stem.
I didn’t yet know the word frenzy.

Didn’t know this was the way
things happened: fire, destruction, exodus.