by Katrina Roberts
A tower of bales suddenly aflame in Yakima makes
news. Not dry enough, a static flash, indeterminate
cause, though vast lost. Next day, crisp grass beneath
the Ford so he slicks it off. But these things, like sparks
from exhaust—we understand them. What of the wick
effect, spontaneous combustion of human flesh: torso
and arms consumed; bare skull, lower legs intact, rooms
left relatively uncharred while the TV-watcher flares,
burns, and burns out? Loneliness is a factor, some
figure; others flat out disregard such stories as fluff.
But sometimes it seems there's only the mind and heart
inflicting cause, body simply providing the ride... so
summer long: being alone, being alone, being alone
builds until one gives in for something else to start.
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Katrina Roberts is the author of four collections of poems, and the editor of an anthology including 85 voices out of the many writers who've participated in the Visiting Writers Reading Series she directs at Whitman College, where she's the Mina Schwabacher Professor of English and the Humanities.
Before she moved to the Pacific Northwest to get some grapevines in the ground, she had a decade's run of adjunct teaching in Cambridge, MA (Harvard Extension, Boston University, Holy Cross, Keene State College, University of Southern Maine, Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking). She's a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Introduced to the ways of wine-making in Switzerland, Italy, and France, today Roberts continues to learn the artistry and alchemy of crafting wine and spirits in Walla Walla, Washington, where, with her husband, Jeremy Barker, she co-founded and runs Tytonidae Cellars, as well as the Walla Walla Distilling Company. They can generally find their three small children playing with barn cats in the good dirt somewhere not far from the vineyard.
"Burn" was published in Roberts' collection titled Friendly Fire, winner of the Idaho Prize for Poetry 2007.