Posted By: Susan Rooke
Posted on: May 16, 2017 9:09 PM
San Pedro River Review published this poem in the Fall 2012 issue. It was subsequently nominated for a Pushcart Prize:
After the West Texas Fires
One year later, char still creeps
across the bluffs and gullies
like the fingers of a dark frost.
The highway here and there is fringed
with green from last week’s rain.
The trees, though, are mostly dead
for good, those still upright eroding
to sharp black trunks as their limbs
weather away. This land is stark,
a stoic witness to the ancient seas
that swelled and drained. To
volcanoes that burst their glowing
seams and slipped their hot, slow
tongues into every crevice, every gorge.
Of those prehistoric trials, little
evidence remains. Fused
coprolitic clumps of iron, bivalve
fossils on the highest, driest cliffs.
Today, driving through this aftermath
of fire, with these crumbling silhouettes
of death spiking the horizon, I ponder
the Cretaceous, the Paleogene,
and wonder how this time will be
known. Trial by fire brands the heart;
the burned earth a hair shirt scraping
raw. This may be the Martyr’s Age,
when each hill has become another
timbered frame for the ageless, constant
sky to stretch its smooth blue back upon,
lie quiet as it is hammered down.