Burn Victims

Burn Victims

by Paul Willis

The oak trees by the creek are sweating blood.

There where the fire passed through, pressed by the wind,

their barks are blackened, and oozing through the singe,

red beads of sap drip sorrowingly down

to ashes. If we knew Gethsemane

were not a garden anymore and wept

itself, the knotty foreheads of each burl

contracted in one brow of woe, our prayer

would not be for life’s cup but merely that

our hearts might burn within us. Seared and scarred,

we’d bleed in hope of olives buried deep

among the roots, where what remains may rise.

Paul J. Willis is a professor of English at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. His most recent collections of poetry are Visiting Home (Pecan Grove Press, 2008) and Rosing from the Dead (WordFarm, 2009).