Black and congested, they rush to meet other clouds
Somewhere above the blue wash of sky –
Those distant ones born in air, fleeing and laden with water.
A blue streak between their wide white backs and gray underbellies.
Warm yellow flourishes at their edges.
The red that stretches across the full horizon to the sky’s apex
Forms a membrane in the shape of an overturned bowl,
Beneath which we wait, seated, backs bent, legs crossed.
Red is oblivious to our existence, and though we are separate,
We feel in the next second we will disappear into redness,
The membrane will drop like a veil
Becoming lighter and thinner until it sinks into
Our skin and infuses our blood. Any walls evaporate in the heat
And soon we become the red on the other side of which is blue
And then the black of space.
When the fire reaches the peaked ridge one mile north of the city
You have one hour to leave, less, given the wind:
Pack your valuables into something you can carry by yourself alone
Reassemble the life you are leaving, tuck the view from your front window
Among folds of necessary clothes, a toothbrush, and the sun’s light
Through the curtains, moving minute by minute across the walls
Tuck into them the annoyance of cobwebs in corners
Odor of chaparral or redwoods, the stains on the rug and spring’s reckless greens
Cap yesterday into bottles of medication, take the cat sleeping
In the drawer under your bed and put it in its carrier
Extract the garden from the palms of your hands
A man flies through the air and drops
Unconscious onto the center divide of the asphalt road
His body in a complicated position.
Fire hurtles past on both sides bubbling black
At the edges. He wakes to a solitary yellow line
Glowing desolation. House truck dog are gone
Evaporated into red sky and patchy earth, snags
Decorate the darkness. Out of his scars grow
Thin buds. Imperfect impermanent incomplete,
He falls back as if falling into a pool, arms out
The arc of a bird’s wing in flight
Extracts a line from motion, flutters and extends
To the horizon, a thread pulling downward. Light flickers
From the edges of her feathers, the loose webbed down beneath
Covering soft tissue.
Orange thickens at the seam
Between planet and sky, its glow charring earth
And dyeing blue sky and shadows red. Flames race across plains
Gather in forests, ignite arid shrubs.
The bird’s wings turn to ash.
The heat oppressing breath and bitter smell. The familiar
Crackle grown gigantic, unmuted to roar.
The bird sings on, her voice coloring the far-flung, her wings
Left behind, outstretched and otherworldly
|From the eaves of a roof a streak of smoke |
Figures of people on the street all reflect
upon the water and quietly they disappear
The smoke still rises up.
Spring green flares up through ashes across the earth,
In echoing May.
Then October is here again: hot and dry
Fire becomes a repeating conversation
Sweeping flame singed air heated roar
Musical, a crescendo over time
I dream and dream and dream for two days now
Images spin into air like gold
Beaten thin, a gesture
Of hands or breath setting it into flight
Flames spin upward into the trees’ canopy.