What We Can Promise

Happy December! I am delighted to begin this, my second-favorite month, by announcing the publication of a new poem in Mojave Heart Review! (@MojaveHeart, if you’re on Twitter.)

I’m less delighted by its theme. It was written in response to the Hill and Woolsey and Camp Fires, as they devoured homes and lives in California last month. Their aftermaths continue to threaten now: mudslides, fresh grief, insurance nightmares, homelessness. Those first two burned in LA and Ventura Counties, very near to one of my homes and many friends and family.

And those are just three among so many disasters, chronic and acute. Both types are multiplying before our eyes. 

It’s a difficult time, and like most of us, I don’t know what to do. So that’s the big question I was trying to face up to when I wrote this poem. You can read it at Mojave Heart here, or below. 

Wildfire sunrise

What We Can Promise

In the pictures my mother sends
the apocalypse rises.

And so it has
or seeping in
no home is safe.

From far away
from the house next door that was saved
for now
we stop lamenting
the nothing we can do.

If we still have money
          we give.
If we still have home
          we share.
If we still have arms
          we hold them

When we give these things
          they are not enough.
If we kept them to ourselves
          they would be nothing.

In the helpless age between
the endless asking
from the poverty
          of our scorched and bleeding hearts
from the abundance
          of our souls and of our scars
what we can promise you is this.

We bear you witness.


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