On Fire

This is a poem about wildfires. I was driving down the San Bernardino Mountains in California when I saw a vast expanse of a burnt landscape. This was the area where a massive wildfire burned last year, the one started by a “gender reveal” party. I was saddened by this event on the news and now, seeing the devastation in person for the first time, I was frustrated. But this is not a poem about how humans are destroying their environment nor is it a poem about climate change. As I reflected on that scene, I was reminded of how wildfires are an essential part of the ecosystem by feeding new life and renewing the forest for the future. I was reminded of the recurrence of fire even before humankind – albeit on a less massive scale. I hope you enjoy my poem!

On Fire

Charred stone, blackened turquoise
the forest is no longer here
Valley breeze
churns the air
kicks up dust
ember-coarse, once a boulder
These few specks
were thought eternal:
marker, symbol and sculpture
Now rust stained beige, spread out
across the east facing slope

Twelve weeks before, black smoke billowed
higher and wider than each tree
left everything for scraps
to fall, decay, and someday nourish

Dirt holds memories
of how to survive
and feed live roots, defiant
as they hold onto life
All the ground can hear
that wanting persistence
encouraging lichen to grow
on bare ridges
of the Young boulder
It was the rain that broke through
the Elder, made porous
and easy to combust

Forgive me, but I miss the rain

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