Journalism In Verse

matthew-henry

Some Things Only God Can Do

in Environment/Wildfires by

As if the hills themselves were vermillion
waves, a liquid blaze. The things
they saved: cell phone and chargers, laptop,
wedding bands, handgun, three pairs
of underwear, a towel, their two dogs if
they were lucky. Left behind, everything
else: baby book, passports, family
heirlooms, guitar, photos on the wall.
Then the world disappeared
around them, the steering wheel
melted in her hands, the rubber soles
of his shoes dissolved into the asphalt. It started
with a spark, as all fires do, small brush ignited, maybe
a downed power line they say. Now we’re naming
the dead: Carl, Ernest, Jesus. You want to
call your people, hold them close, even the ones
who are no longer there, or anywhere.
I mean, what would you do? All the neighbors’
houses are gone, Black Bear Diner, Safeway
gone, Jack in the Box, the kids’ school, the hospital
where a baby boy was born just hours before, all gone,
horses and mules jumped into swimming pools
to escape the flames. Strange terrain, this
panorama of disaster, of total darkness, exploding
of propane tanks, car tires popping from the heat
of the canyon vortex, of the Jarbo devil wind,
of chaos, of choking black smoke hundreds of
miles away, the ash on our windshield
we recognize as human
remains, the grace of God or the lack of it,
the growing list of the missing, singed
cats in the grasses, of the waiting, of all
the not knowing, of sleeping in cars
and tents, prayers of thanksgiving
in a Walmart parking lot, of a place called
home that suddenly no longer exists.

 


READ MORE

California fire: What started as a tiny brush fire became the state’s deadliest wildfire. Here’s how [Los Angeles Times]
How to help survivors of the Camp Fire in Butte County [SF Gate]
Jerry Brown signed $1M in wildfire prevention – and none of it applies to the fires this year [CALmatters]


Kim Harvey is a San Francisco Bay Area poet and a reader for Palette Poetry. She is an alumni of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Her work has recently appeared in Rattle, 3Elements Review, Raw Art Review, and Poets Reading the News. She was awarded 2nd Prize in the Comstock Review’s 2017 Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Contest and Special Merit in the 2018 contest.

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