Fire to the Rain

In the jungle a millipede caterpillars
onto a giant leaf on soggy ground.

Far above, the rain drums the canopy,
which collects the water only to redistribute it:

Rivulets run down trees, along vines, join on the ground,
picking up orange volume by the second.

And so the leaf sets sail.
The millipede forfeits the captaincy

and rolls over the edge into the water,
only to hold on seconds later to a stem

that grows here in the semi-dark.
A bad choice: While the leaf

would have borne its captain to safer shores,
a red jungle fowl now picks up a snack

in one fell hack and scurries back to the village.
A village built into a clearing, hacked into the forest.

And so no canopy protects the huts.
Sheets of water slash down

onto everything and all who sit quite patiently.
This is not the first downpour, but the last one

for the old man who tilts his head towards a stranger sound;
louder than the thunderous beating of the rain on roof and hat.

For suddenly a shiny something overhead
sets fire to the rain
and to the chicken
and the leaf
and the hut
and the man.

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