in Environment/Wildfires by

There are still birds in the smoke-heavy air
flying blind, still following the sharp
edge of the V. They falter, as if to
crash against another message-

bearing flock, another formation still searching
for dry land after so long on the water

now that the last olive tree
has been uprooted in the holy land

and burns in the strangely
bitter neighbor’s field.

We are clueless.


We send another—
this one a lone, leather-winged,

saber-beaked raptor
out into the parched wilderness. She searches

for moisture. She returns
from the desert, un axolotl

held gently aloft, las dos luchando
por vida.

The two swim toward us
through the acrid

heaven. Someone must learn
to welcome our distant

relatives, who can teach us
to breathe again, as we move

overland, just above the ground,
in flight, crying,

Ojalá! Ojalá!


Norma Smith was born in Detroit, grew up in Fresno, and has lived in Oakland since the late 1960s. She worked in hospitals for more than 40 years. She has also worked as a journalist, a translator/interpreter, an educator, and as an editor and writing coach. Norma’s writing has been published in academic, political, and literary journals. Her book of poems, HOME REMEDY, was published in 2017 by Nomadic Press.