Wednesday, June 09, 2021


by Pepper Trail

In this April 22, 2021 photo provided by Sequoia & Kings National Parks is a stand of burned sequoias in Sequoia National Park, CA following the 2020 Castle Fire. At least a tenth of the world’s mature giant sequoias were destroyed by a single California wildfire that tore through the southern Sierra nevada last year, according to a draft report by scientists with the National Park Service. Photo credit: Tony Caprio/Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks via AP and KTLA.

When the immortals die
The thousand-year trees
When they burn
It is time for the climate scientists
All the deepest thinkers
To gather, to bring their life's-work
Their most elaborate models
Their most detailed simulations
To meet in the grove of fire-blacked giants
Clasp each other's shoulders, bow their heads
Scatter their predictions among the ashes
And return the way they came, empty-handed
Now at last we know: we know nothing
We have killed the world of our understanding
And our future, a lifelong lesson in grief

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.