The Lightning Complex Fires
Marilyn Ringer

Have I grown deaf
to birdsong,
or have the robins
flown elsewhere
to sing their June
A plan that amuses
God becomes
the brush
that fuels
the flint
of Thor’s hammer.
Overgrowth tendered,
rain evaporates
above the ground.
A woman
leads horses
by the highway.
Ash turns
the sun
burnt orange.
I venture out,
a mask between me
and the ragged air,
gray with the remains
of pine, blue oak,
manzanita, star thistle, 

a house, a barn.
Cottonwood fluff
floats adrift in smoke,
or is this ash
that falls like snow?
What new plants
will sprout,
seed coats
cracked by heat
now that the bramble
is charred? What settlers
will lose hope?
The mind designed
to reason, shocked
when reason fails,
ratchets. Its intentions
simplified to air,
water, shelter.
It checks off the leaving list:
what can be carried,
what cannot be saved.

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