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"Sage" - Shannel Garrow

There’s a 1 in 3000 chance that you will die
by lightning strike within your lifetime.

Those numbers are too high for me to stand
on our porch during a thunderstorm without
fearing for your life.  I wonder how many storms
we have seen altogether, collectively and separate.

I ask you this and you tell me not to worry.
I tell you wearing rubber boots doesn’t make
it less likely to be struck.  You light a stick of sage
and I can smell the butane in the lighter

before anything else.  They say that if the smoke
of burning sage smells foul to you there is an evil
spirit in your body.  I wonder who “they” are.  It must
be an old Indian saying, passed on from mouth

to ear and then translated in and out of its
original language and my interpretation
is all that is left.  The smoke rises and sage
smells like sage to both of us.  It’s a relief.

I have come to fear the moment
between lighting the stick and inhaling
the smoke.