The trees are burning, burning.
Underneath, a lawyer practices her speech:
may it please the court. Leaves fall
as if from the weight of my looking.
Berkeley said we are held suspended
in God’s mind, whose forgetfulness would
be our annihilation. I cannot say this
to the court, though I am addressing
the death of an 18-year-old girl who
was blown open. The efficient cause,
a fire extinguisher, itself burning so
slowly no one noticed. Except after,
traces of the seeping fire, like the cool
fires above me. Rust she would have seen,
if they had trained her to look for it.
I will not mention love to the judges.
How it survives all the damage we inflict.
I say the ginkgo sheds her golden hair
without grief, and even this civil suit
is for love. And death a form of fruiting.
Laura Fargas practiced occupational safety and health litigation on the worker side for twenty-seven years for the Department of Labor. Her books include An Animal of the Sixth Day (Texas Tech Univ. Press, 1996). She lives in Washington, DC.