Poetry: "Fireline" by Arah Ko

March 6, 2022

Photo by Stefan Katrandjiski on Unsplash



My grandfather burned
fields as a boy, starving
wildfires before they tore

into the village. His face,
smoke-smudged, glows
at me in sepia. He knew

fire & witness is a kind
of flame. After his mother
died, he ashed her photographs,

paper wings fluttering
in a cigar box & now he can’t
remember her likeness. I wish

I could have told him
not all reckonings are soot—
the torched city soldiers

crunched through, snowmelt
on scorched crops. I’d say
we are also known by living

things, thinking of the tree
a crashed bike grew into, seeds
nourished by flash fires,

smooth, righteous nuts
shining through soil. Of family
he planted in a foreign land,

wild bouquets we picked
for him as children, fingers raw
with pollen. Willowherb, fire

poppy, pheasant’s eye:
from his face, we never
thought of them as weeds.



Arah Ko

Arah Ko is a writer from Hawai'i. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Juked, Fugue, Sugar House Review, Ruminate, and Sidereal, among others. Arah is an MFA candidate in creative writing at The Ohio State University where she serves as Art and Wheeler Prize Editor for The Journal. When not writing, she can be found tending a jungle of house plants with her cat, Anakin. Catch her at arahko.com.