Rivulets steam and stream

Salty, hot,

Under this thick non-woven

Breathing face mask,

Meant to keep out

A million miniscule molecules

Of ash, one remnant of

That rant of fire

That leapt the canyons and dry ridges,

In one pyrocumulus moment

Then consumed, decimated,

This now catastrophed neighborhood

Where children and dogs once played

And grey rabbits nibbled, hopping beside

Twin fawns at dawn.


We volunteers

Shovel debris,

Shovel residue,

Shovel cinders

Of unrecognizables,

Sifting stunned,

Sifting silently,

Sifting hoping


Mementos of memories.


We sweat

Inside these white disposable Tyvek suits,

Sifting rubble,

Looking for beauty

Among ashes.


Courageous homeowners stop by.

Amid rivulets of their own,

Springing up from raw places,

They weep hope, the largest remnant of

That rant of fire:

“We will rebuild.”



© Lane M. Arnold


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