We're fire lookouts. Our cabin, glass,
Heron-rears atop a forest hill. I rule
a team of fire-fighting little cats
being field-tested. Not just trained--
they become a train! Fire-cats link
to make a tiny steamtrain purring o'er
ridges, crags, unerringly toward fire.
Crews trail quick on our trampled track.
Camp on a riverbeach at eve. We'll reach
the front tomorrow. But one cat short.
I show her photo round, 'explaining' "She
was exhausted, wouldn't leap o'er
the planterbox at our greenhouse door.
Time ran out, so I had to shoot her."
If you call that justified! Sounds
so thin even to me. Now, though, she
reappears, hale. Firecats who die
in the smoke-bruised glow of day
resurrect at eve. This is, after all, a
Next morn, we climb over pillow-hills
with heather-cloth in bright rust-hues.
A world of lovely strange. Look down
from a blanket-ridge onto the Fire
bed midslope. Quickly quelled; it was
already starved. Quilt-tinder failed.
We're packing to chuff on home to Lookout
when a human fire brigade arrives, red-clad,
with a gleaming engine all envy. Golden bell.
They bear a small red coffin. Their pall
Bearers hold a kitten-cinder: brave daughter
of the greenhouse cat I martinetly slew.
The poor kit scorched to death. Fire-heroine. I
say "We're experimental, no regulation crew;
a RED coffin's unrequired." Their captain says
"We thought departmental colors would be
only what the kit deserves--but of course you
knew her better." I think things through,
Say "You're right, and I'm glad you did.
Of course she deserves full honor." Such
Memorials are for living not the dead. I
just privately think it a waste of glossy red
since night-breath fans all our cat-coals
back to red flame: revives our lost souls.
Half awake now, I feel my leader-fuss
herding our indestructible cat-team
is like Jane's Emma, managing friends'
loves to serve the fading walls of class.
Or like that crazy Frenchman in the film
Dear Inspector, who hovers to protect
his delicate daughter's sweet pussy by
fatal-accidenting every man she dates.