Wildfire Season


Iliad 2.455-457
with thanks to A.E. Stallings

. . . Just as a lightning strike,
or a stray spark, or some such randomness
takes hold, sudden as thought, of a wildland ridge
so that we see, in distances and news clips,
tall tonguings of molten saffron-orange
lick hugely from one hillside to another
and plumes of ashy black, poufs and bouffants
lifting, then sifting down in crumbs of grit
on the attendant rich suburban houses
where families listen nervously for updates—
which highways will be glutted with sedans,
and Range Rovers, and SUVs, all gut-stuffed
with people in flight, angry and disbelieving
that a random flash or spark could wrest from them
the lovely form and matter of their lives,
leaving not even gods to blame, just so. . .