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.

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. 

Update: Mojave Heart is sadly no more. Here’s the poem:

Wildfire sunrise
What We Can Promise

In the pictures my mother sends
the apocalypse rises.

And so it has, daily

raging, or seeping in.

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
painfully open.
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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