Firestarter

“[T]here is a noticeable increase
in the amount of charcoal (a proxy for fires)
in sediments in the western Pacific Ocean
deep sea cores starting 12 to 7 Ma[.]”
GEOL 204

How the reed defeated the oak
Is a story you don’t want to hear,
If you think that we are a menace,
You’ll learn there is far worse to fear.

Their age measures civilizations,
Their height count in houses of God,
Their width in the strides of a lover
Returning from business abroad.

The oaks of deep time were the greatest
Multicellular creatures of all,
A shelter for insect and serpent,
And the dreamer asleep in their pall.

But the reed was jealous of greatness,
Though in truth we must call it a weed,
And so it designed a triumph:
To immolate the apotheosis of seed.

It dried out its wastrel body,
The better to be able to burn,
Its heart subterranean swelling,
The easier thence to return.

Firestarter, we should call it,
Because that is what it became.
It burned down the primeval forest;
It leveled the fractal of same.

A globe of prairies followed,
The barrens we come now to know,
Our nature, so far from beauty,
Is already a thing laid low.