On one side of the road

was ice and fog,

on the other, smoke and fire.


We were driving by the river

while the fire burned above us

a quarter-mile away.


Cool on the driver's side,

and on the passenger's,

the closed window glass

was hot to the touch.


Suffocating smoke

billowed into the air,

suffusing the atmosphere

like waterless blood.


The river was clogged

with floes of ice

melting in a sudden thaw.


Drawn out of the snowmelt,

a hazy fog hung low

over the water.


Above our heads,

above the roof of the car,

the smoke from the fire

met the fog off the ice.


The road took us

straight up the middle,

as if that were a choice

we were free to make.