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In the morning while it’s still cool we hose down the yard,
watch a red sun crest the ridge, haloed in wildfire smoke
that drifted 200 miles and stalled here against the mountains.
A house fly is walking across the table, six tiny feet leaving
tracks in the yogurt. One cat has already eaten a hummingbird.
If you think about joy long enough, maybe death will make sense:
a matter of balance. The deer caught in a fire outside Redding,
the rabbits and bear cubs, king snakes… and you know when 30 boats
melt at anchor in Whiskeytown, fish in that lake have perished.
Displaced blue herons, mergansers. I am not asking forgiveness
for the hummingbird. I plant the flowers and water them —
who else would come for their nectar? And what cat wouldn’t leap
at the chance? In this world there is order wherever you look:
cause, effect, logic, consequence. A dry winter, and a car backfire
or summer lightning ignites just one branch, which bends
in the wind the flames create to brush another. A few hours later
it’s 45 square miles and uncontained. The fire jumps the river
right after supper, headed downtown, and cars crawl away
from their homes in a dark lit by headlights and flung sparks,
chased by the crackle and gathering roar, song of a small city burning.
Copyright 2018 Molly Fisk