I am alone on the porch
except for you, little girl–
we are the only two around
who enjoy this soggy heat.

You land on my ankle,
and begin your preparation–
the ritual passed down
from your ancestors.

I begin my own rite,
the snap of my lighter–
a flame that slices the
velvet curtain of night.

My smoke languishes
in the heavy, wet air–
and sinks down, enveloping
your cellophane wings.

What can we do about this
little warrior, ancient enemy–
we who have killed so many
of each other’s kind?

That rare and subtle flavor
you taste is called pity–
carry it into the night
and start a pandemic.