Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Kincade Fire

in Environment/Wildfires by

For two nights, the Diablo winds
rattled. Now they’ve gone
sibilant, and smoke’s returned,
blurring my vision. Is that a
tree, or a horse painted by
Dalí? Standing at attention with
muscled metal chest, gridded birds
bending their necks into the Bay,
drinking crude.

In the Baylands, we’ve been cleaning seed—
refining plants through sieves to their
essential selves. I walk outside and start:
the tide has filled this pool,
the estuary’s exhalation,
where this morning its mud was
exposed. The breath of fires pleats the water.
Three ducks and a small plane wheel in unison, the
streaming chatter of birds picks up,
leaves off, in
deciduous ellipses.

This creeping hour, the marsh is singular;
time teems full of water and wings, the rumor of a
Tropical Kingbird, one “large tyrant flycatcher,”
and my father’s voice, urging me, with
tragic logic,
to leave all this beauty,
before its scars are all I can remember.



Laura Booth sells books and restores tidal marsh habitat around the San Francisco Bay. She holds a BA in environmental biology from Columbia University. Her writing focuses on urban ecology, and has appeared in Alpinist and The Nature of Cities.


Kincade Fire

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