3. Fire and ice

For the fire and the ice. All night it rained through biting air, and the bitten world held fast the droplets. The streets turned to streams and the yards to bogs, but rails and windshields crusted, and the twigs of trees made ghostly fingers shimmering in the streetlight. Sometime after dawn by the sodden roadside the burden of frozen rain dragged a power line into a too-deep catenary arc through ice-tombed needles of a bent-weary pine. The heat of its challenged will sparked and caught the tree, but the insistent rain will not let it burn free. It melts, burns, smolders and freezes; melts, burns, smolders and freezes. Here a flashing amber like the hazard of a half-wrecked car, there a quick-roaring billow of gold, and always the cloud of smoke rising to the clouds of rain, gray dissolving into soft gray. Fire and ice struggle while the sky drips obstinately on, entangled like wrestlers and not, from the comfortable sidelines, elementally separable.