The world’s oldest underground mine fire has been burning 6,000 years— This is in Australia, landscape of opera and barrier reefs, gun laws. Heat from the fires, leaving the mine rocky and jagged, the land caved in like a glorious indoor pool. Somewhat like this, our differences, yours and mine. How heat destroys us into emotional extravagance. How we can’t stop lecturing or rid ourselves of outworn values. The black dress I wore to your mother’s funeral, its secret underside of orange silk. Heat from the fire, leaving the mine rocky and jagged— We keep silent, our private permissions hidden. The veiled fear, lamps kept lit. The world’s oldest mine began with a rumble between two things, lightning strike or spontaneous combustion, some kind of invisible barter, so the heat is also a movement that wants to spring confused canaries abandoned underground, wants to quit pacing red borders. The mountain burning through its energy is a kind of god-magic unsolved, what keeps us reaching toward the larger—

LIZ ROBBINS’ third collection, Freaked, won the 2014 Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award; her second collection, Play Button, won the 2010 Cider Press Review Book Award. In 2015 she won the Crab Orchard Review Special Issue Feature Award in Poetry and in 2016 was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Fugue. Her poems have appeared in Adroit Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, BOAAT, Denver Quarterly, Kenyon Review Online, and Rattle, as well as on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor; she has poems forthcoming in Poetry East and Salt Hill. She’s an associate professor of creative writing at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL.