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This poem is taken from PN Review 267, Volume 49 Number 1, September - October 2022.

Three Poems Kudzai Zinyemba
Mount St Helens

We all stand on the porch and take pictures as if we’ve never seen fire before.
Men pour out of the warehouse exits, coughing and spattered with soot.
The flames themselves never cross the threshold.
I wouldn’t notice it was burning except for the smoke –
a column the width of the building escaping through the atomized roof.
It coils as it rises, swirling thick and black and red.
Above us, the sun disappears.

Firemen come. They make calls. They field cameras.
The building is still burning ten hours later.
It’s dry and January, grass crunching underfoot.
Crowds disperse in search of central heating.
Workmen turn their hands towards the blaze.
At dusk, the fire engines call it quits.
I check the mail before retreating. My letterbox is powdered gray.
The smoke column grows bigger each hour.

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