From my desk window, I watch the fire
where the far ridge drops into the next
watershed, Rio de los Santos Reyes,
to follow mushrooming thunder cells
billow white as backfires collide:
cedar, fir, pine and redwood up in smoke
late afternoons and imagine the heat
and trees exploding, smudged yellow
Nomex—men, and women too, on the fire line,
exhausted and bleary-eyed as the red tails
of air tankers sail back and forth over me.
Sixty thousand acres plus of back country
charred by a living, breathing monster
twenty-five percent contained. The wind
has changed and cleared our canyon
as thunder cells push eastward up the Kings.
From the ridge and from the air they watched
a lightning strike run in the rocks
for over a week, thought it would never
jump both the river and the road—
could have put it out anytime.