Fire, Lake, Facebook

I’m afraid to lift the lid of my computer.
Closed, it keeps its news to itself.
Opened, hand-sized vine maple leaves might float down with charred edges,
no wind, just twirling slowly out of a smoky sky
onto my desk, four hundred miles away,
a different fire now threatening forests closer to here.

After a night of dry-mouthed stirrings
and wrinkled sheets that smell of dream-scorched barbecue,
I return to daylight worries.
The comfort of having all my family living within 3 miles of the family farm,
though far from me,
turns ashy when I see their messages and check my phone.
Who’s sheltering where?
I didn’t dream of redwood towers falling,
century-ravenous flames screaming upwards,
I turned over and over again and thought – the goats!
Do you let the chickens out or set a sprinkler on the roof of the coop?
Turn the gas off?
What goes into one packed bag?
What gets carried down to the basement?

Finally, I pushed all the hot images out of mind’s panoramic theater
and pulled an ocean’s cool to me,
summoning little waves licking the wet sand.
Circles ripple out from the trout leaping for waterbugs in the mountain lake.
A single fisherman in a green vest turns off his motor and settles into the dawn.

Beth Benjamin
August 2020

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