The Disorderly Order of the Forest

I go
for the birdsong,
smell of pines,
disorderly order
of the forest

it owns
mysteries, miracles – trees –
some reach a hundred feet
to the sky
some lay across the trail
spawn a universe
in their rotting trunk

last week
I drove to the trailhead
a phalanx of shimmery women
floated out of the forest
chased by the fire
which created them

on trail
silvery threads covered the ground
soot stained
shriveled tree branches;
occasional bright green ferns
preened among
blackened pine cones

I hiked
ahead and saw
wavy columns
of white smoke
one, two, three, four
I understood
the forest burned
I ran

no one
wants to be
a brown fungus
a woman made of smoke
a silver strand of witness
unless it is decreed.
I fled the forest

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About the Author

Ruth Nasrullah is a freelance journalist who has been published in Azizah, Religion News Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine, The Trek, Toastmaster, Houston Chronicle, The Lily, MuslimMatters, Islamic Horizons, and more. In 2021, she won the Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member award from the Society of Professional Journalists. She has an MA in journalism from Emerson College and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College.

Ruth Nasrullah
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