The old sugar maple at the southeast corner of the house had been declining for two years, and despite a wet summer its canopy was brown and bare long before autumn. Yesterday, men with chain saws took it down limb by limb, leaving a gaping hole in the sky where the tree’s green depths once harbored hummingbirds. On winter nights I used to look out at its windswept branches, combed by fingers I never saw.
The Smokies: ridge beyond
ridge of ancient mountains, wrapped in a soft blue haze of rain and the moist
outbreath of trees. The highest peaks are temperate rain forest, mossy and
dripping. But now the picture changes . . . because the climate changes. Hot
smoke replaces the gentle mist as fire consumes the forest, tinder-dry after
months of heat and drought. Crown fires leap from treetop to treetop. High
winds drive a firestorm through Gatlinburg, trapping people in their homes
where they burn to death. Several days have passed and children are still
missing. The Appalachian Trail smolders.
fills my lungs .
I dream of the
sprouting in ash
Pollen grains tell
stories.Drifting like gold dust on a
cold wind, grass pollen sifts into lakes, to be buried in mud for 20,000 years.
Grass pollen tells of an Ice-Age Europe covered with open steppes where forests
should have grown—the climate favored trees, not grasses. But layers of ash
tell stories, too—the story of fires that burned the forests, fires set by
Paleolithic hunter-gatherers who transformed their world long before the first
factory smokestacks began to spew their plumes of ash and deadly gases.
a stone-age campfire
in my hand
dusty oak leaf
~KYSO Flash7, Spring
2017. Finalist in ‘One Life, One Earth’