My dreams take me to lush woods with rolling hills. It’s there where I refresh myself in cool streams of spring water. The forest canopy shielded me from the harsh sun. And while I enjoyed a cool afternoon breeze, the distant rolling thunder woke me. Sadly, it takes but a single spark to transforms this paradise.
Forests gloved in green,
Burned by summer’s betrayal.
The aftermath of a forest fire is surreal: a world of black and gray against a blue sky where once life teemed. The land is scarred eternally. Eons from now, geologist will find a charcoal layer in the dirt where this enchanted forest once thrived. Their trained eyes will see this as a fingerprint of our age. But they won’t see the beauty of the trees, the gaiety of the animals, or the bravery of those who fought with their lives to preserve it. They’ll see a black line in the dirt.
Wildfire fingerprints –
Cruelty branded the land
Marked for renewal.
Even in the dark sadness of complete destruction, my heart yearns for hope. Touring the redwood forests of California, I was struck by the nature of those incredible sequoia trees. To my amazement, I learned that they could not survive without forest fires. The flame clears the ground around them and opens their pine cones, allowing their seeds to drop so they can reproduce. To survive, those giant beauties depend on fiery chaos. They’re giant sentries, waiting to renew our hopes.
Tears wrestle the flame –
Tasting hope on acrid air,
Sunrise brings new dreams.
No matter the hope or dreams, we cannot walk from such destruction without tears. They sear memories into our souls. As the giant redwoods sow seeds of new hope, perhaps these memories will sprout through the pain, into new dreams.
While I’ve never experienced a wildfire, I’ve seen it’s destructive wake. Living on the East Coast, I’m fortunate that these fires are as infrequent as they are. But still, my heart goes out to those out west who recently lost friends, loved ones, homes, and the lives they knew. While this poem was written as a prompt for Haiku Heights, this haibun was written with those people in mind. I’m sorry for your loss and hope you will soon find the new dreams that will sustain and comfort you.
- 19 firefighters die in one of nation’s deadliest blazes (cnn.com)
- Thousands flee Colo. wildfire; 360 homes destroyed (kgw.com)