Blessed be the girl now out watching her father at work in the yard, blessed be that girl, now throwing leaves into the fire that her father has started to clear the brush from their yard, blessed be that fire and how the girl believes that, with every handful added, she is making enough stained glass to fill a cathedral, blessed be the dogs running through the woods behind her house at dusk, blessed be their bodies running as they chase what’s left of the light past the cemetery beside the abandoned church on the edge of the county road and up the road past the yard fenced in for horses where there will never be horses. Blessed be those horses: blessed be those bodies that will never feel the smoke crowding their lungs as it does now in hers standing before that fire, its flares now turning out of glass and into a lake of light behind her house, blessed be that smoke, blessed be that smoke and how the girl believes in a God who may not hear prayers, but who cannot miss smoke, so she sings to it, this smoke, corralled into a column in the sky, lashed and lassoed with ash and debris, with loblolly and white oak, the flames coyote-yellow and white as the animal bones littered over the fence that divides her family’s yard from their neighbors. Blessed be that fence and how the hands, her father’s, that built it did so to shut things in as much as to keep things out. Blessed be those hands for the graves they dug bare to bury dog after dog found along the county road each morning, body after matter body drowned into dirt behind their house. Blessed be those bodies: blessed be the time the girl tried to dig up a freshly killed labrador because she thought, if she could recover unbroken remains, she could prove to her nightmares how death is just another translation of sleep– blessed, blessed be how she dropped the dirt in her fists and stopped digging when she struck clay the color of bone and stone the color of tongue.

M.K. Foster