Perceived Distance

by Kelly R. Samuels

There’s what resembles the smell of burnt hair, that evening
when that girl bent over that candle on that table and we all turned
first at the sight and then could not forget because of the stench.
Bright flare, fetor. On the screen, satellite images capture
the plume, the drift. From above, this particular threat resembles
others over water, arriving in autumn. Here in the valley,
the smoke pools and settles and temporarily rests. It’s tailed
a cold front, coming in after rain, marking your return. There is
another descending motion I could speak of, but we make small
talk, of how you covered your mouth and nose whenever you had
to stop, how little I know of Canada. There are 12,000 acres
your family owns and lives on in a country I’ve never been to
though the names sound familiar. Yellowknife. Saskatchewan.
Alberta. Follow the Edmonton for your share of gold.
There’s the horror and the beauty, depending on distance.
They pack their cars as quickly as they can while Cape Cod extols
striking sunsets, hazy moons. Even I, ignorant, took a picture
that night, one that differed from the one you sent. Understand:
always the two will be connected in my mind.

Kelly R. Samuels lives and works as an adjunct English instructor in the upper Midwest. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net, and has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals including Burningword, The Summerset Review, Kestrel, The Carolina Quarterly, Rappahannock Review, Construction, and Sweet Tree Review.