phones pinging with news,
they keep the car packed.
Clothes, papers, her grandma’s silver,
his old guitar, dog food, water, pictures
they thought they’d have time to scan.
They stay inside, wait, windows
a strange End Times hue. Hope.
until the evacuation call comes.
They cry as he props open gates
to give horses a chance, as she
lets hens out, leashes the dogs.
Tears tumble down ash-dusted faces,
soak into their masks. Ash made of pine,
black-tailed deer, salamander. Ash made
of books and homes. Ash ever-present
as grief. As they drive away, they breathe in
© Laura Grace Weldon
Severe forest fires have increased eightfold in western US since 1985, study finds
Laura Grace Weldon has two poetry collections, Blackbird (Grayson 2019) and Tending (Aldrich 2013). She was 2019 Ohio Poet of the Year. Laura works as a book editor and lives on a small farm where she'd get more done if she didn't spend so much time reading library books, cooking weird things, and singing to livestock. lauragraceweldon.com.