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Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Clackamas, Oregon, September 12, 2020

by Carolyn Martin
Dozens still missing in Oregon. Burnt roses are seen outside a destroyed home as destructive wildfires devastate the region on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Talent, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein via OregonLive)

While I check out evacuation routes
and pray our packed cars are precaution,
not necessity, thousands have lost
all there is to lose except each other
and maybe a treasure or two:
a dog, a cat, livestock raced
to fairgrounds, a child’s diary.

They don’t see what we—
the hunkered-down-in-place—see:
miles of ash heaps, contorted
cars and trucks, war-weary firefighters
who breathe the unbreathable.

Meanwhile, my mother lies in a NJ nursing home.
She can’t remember if she ate her lunch
or how to answer her phone. I watch her mind
slip into the smoke that wipes out
our Douglas firs and seeps into our home.
Today she doesn’t know her air is clean
or that nineteen years ago, she breathed
the ash of 3000 souls drifting
through another blackened sky.

Carolyn Martin is happily retired in Clackamas, OR where she gardens, writes, and plays with creative friends. She is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation.