THE DRAGON’S PROGRESS
You can smell it on the air.
No wind to disperse the smoke,
or float ash our way.
You chart the fire’s progress—
flames still distant,
but no promises.
How many canyons over?
How decadent the woods in need
of thinning, how tinder-dry
Smoke fills the valley,
curls in canopies of oak, every corner
and corridor. I’ve got smoke in my shoes
and smoke in my head.
It smells of dragon breath
on the manzanita trail where I walked
in a sepia cloud;
over the rim of burned-out hills,
where my dog tested the air
that smelled like nothing could survive
but chimneys—the headstones
It’s how you smelled, coming home
after a week of trying to save
a forest; trees in skeleton
on that ridge we used to hike—
where fireweed pushed up
through char the dragon left behind;
its seeds still alive.
TRICKS OF LIGHT
PAST THE DEAD-END,
Ripple on ripple she rayed the colors—
incomplete rainbows, not believing
in ends, or pots of gold. Blues and furors
of yellow, greens against the thieving
of Time. A glitch, a flash out of fog—
the teacher shook his finger. No,
you can’t have rocks or a squint-eye frog
in crystal pools. It helps the water flow,
she said. She wouldn’t fix her art.
Eye of glowing color in a mask of dark.
—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham for today's fine poems and pix, including her photos of the Butte fire.