By July we are underwater,
wearing tall rubber boots or barefoot
with blue jeans rolled over our knees.
The grass and thistles pressed flat,
smoothed beneath flowing clear planes
that have jumped the ditch banks.
August: we are dry.
My father piles dead branches
and debris, makes a ring of bonfires
encircling each field.
He wears a broad-brimmed hat
of woven straw, sloshes diesel
the color of shiraz from a gas can.
I strike the match
in a burst of sulfur,
throw it and leap backwards.
There is a sound like the opening
of a parachute, fabric gone
from slack to bursting in an instant,
then flames, tall as my shoulder.
Next he burns the ditches,
right down the gullets,
fire to clear the way
for next year’s flood.