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"Flame Trees" - Dr. Phyllis L. Kiernan


In off season the world turns to ice. Breathing at zero degrees takes your mind off the snow filling up your tracks. If you wandered out across the field, no one would find you until spring, maybe the second thaw. Imagine bloodhounds floundering, ice cracking, a close call. If it was July, you could escape by way of underground river. The trick is to find secret openings in the earth and listen for water. Then, like Alice, roll your eyes up and fall backward, watching the sky disappear. This is a leap of faith. At the change of season, for just two days, the flame trees are real. If you can walk the road between them without getting burned, you can change your life. You can really leave this world.

“Flame Trees” was previously published in Heartbeat, Spring/Summer 1994, Vol. 2, No. 2, and was the concluding work in Phyllis’ dissertation, Involuntary Landscape.


Dr. Phyllis L. Kiernan
February 18, 1958 - October 28, 2011