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Cameron Peak Fire

It is barely September and we are cast into shadows in the middle of the day. For months people have joked; “What is next? What could be stranger than this?” And she answers in a loud voice. Growing louder.

The light that filters through the smoke turns everything ten shades too warm. Like the air has turned to brass and we are standing in droves out on porches looking up into the dark sky. Breathing in the heavy air, reaching out to catch the charred remnants in the palms of our hands. Street lights flicker on in the early afternoon.

And we all wait and wonder, when will the falling ash give way to snow. Or will they fall together? Ash and ice in a slow spiraling dance? And still we prepare our meals and go about this day. Because what can you do when you wake up on another planet, aside from all the things you know to do on yours?

I see the clear lines of pine and aspen in the pieces that land, whole until the wind takes them away. Dust to dust; and in my head I can’t help but to think of last rites. But what words do you speak over the burnt body of the land?

Sometimes in this life it is hard to tell the difference between birth and death.

© Elizabeth McLaughlin | September 7, 2020


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