Matter yearning to become spirit; white ash under the trees,
skid marks of the Lord’s breath.
So light where are you after all this—
my house in ruins, none of the past to rake, sift
none of it.
I raised my children here, young mother I was
all trial and error.
Dark mountain now and in the quiet hour
of dusk we left
slept next to the corral
in the sedan loaded with quilts,
bags of photos, memorabilia,
under the three hundred year old oak
that had watched the cattle
for a century
come and go,
and the cowboy that day of the fire
found every cow and calf
even the pair that huddled in the creek bed
as we had huddled in our seats, tried
as the flames came nearer
and the next day that giant tree fell
right there after our departure.
Oh oil sheen black the pastures
where tar weed grew indelibly
each August, the golden cloth of it….
you’ve traumatized your daughter--
wasn’t it enough
the friends I lost to suicide,
Do you listen, you there hardened
like the day moon,
twisted beauty of the madrone, the toyon,
short fuse of manzanita?
Former Napa County Poet Laureate