Winter Wildfires

What an odd thing this winter is.  As a resident of Southern California (who somehow prefers cold and rain to clear, hot, sunny skies), I’ve been experiencing slight envy of the rest of the country’s cold, snowy winter while it seems that the rest of the country has been experiencing envy of my unusually warm, dry winter.  With a high of 85 degrees more often than not this past week, and temperatures never dropping anywhere near freezing, it seems that the Southern California weather has forgotten that it is, in fact, January, not July.

This probably isn’t news to you.  You probably know about the huge wildfires beginning to scour the countryside here.  Wildfires in January–that’s a first for me.

As I’ve been sick this past week, I don’t have anything new or extremely creative or thought provoking for you.  Instead, the wildfires have put me in mind of a poem I shared a while back, so I thought that I’d re-share it with you:

Wildfires
by Beth Wangler

I am a sentinel at the second-floor window
watching the amber tongues lick the dry brush,
watching the Orange County sky turn to grey
as classmates become refugees,
as California’s paradise turns to hell,
and somewhere out there is my Dad.

Warriors clad in neon armor,
soldiers armed with fabric hose,
armored tanks with flashing, shrieking lights,
and, joining the ranks of freedom fighters,
somewhere out there is my Dad.

The peoples’ guardians try to cage
the phoenix with hydrants and helicopters.
School’s canceled for a snow day:
Dry grey snow, confetti ash snow,
choke-you-till-you-feel-sick snow.
The air tastes like a thousand fears,
the taste that out there is my Dad.

We’ve tried to tame this wild beast,
turn wasteland into Eden,
so now the canyon shakes its mane,
stamps its hoofs, and snorts in rage
and mocks our little teeny lives
by turning the sun sickly red—
and somewhere out there is my Dad.

When the dragon once more falls asleep,
the army retreats in weary victory,
my classmates pick their ways back home
and we try to forget the hanging threat.
But first I say a prayer of thanks
to the fire’s mighty Lord,
to the Lord of displaced refugees and helpless little girls,
because though out there the battle raged,
now here, back at home is my Dad.

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About A Daughter's Story

I'm an author and a teacher exploring the world and the stories and ideas it holds.
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