A few years ago a massive wildfire - The 2016 Fort McMurry wildfire claimed 1,456,810 acres of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. It was the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta's history. A heart piercing loss of wildlife. One evening the northwest winds brought evidence of that raging fire through the bedroom window. The poem below is what arrived in the morning.
As the wildfires consuming beloved tracts of land, old growth forest and known (to me) communities in Oregon this past week, I offer this up as a lament and a prayer for these times. May new life rise from the ashes, all the ashes.
Wild Fires of the Northern Lights
Wrapped in the gleanings of dreaming birds
Ushered by the northwest wind, softly coming softly, after a rage of brutality,
after the thousand -miled journey, elegantly dusted with stars’ light.
Drifting, drifting in through the night washed window.
Coming into me, waking me, an incense of lost and found.
A 3am guest I can (selfishly) claim as mine for just now, while the world sleeps.
Soon enough, this veil of ghosts will drape its swarming shroud, occluding the legs of the sun.
These are the burnt offerings of the ancestral Alberta fires.
A sublimation of Jack pine, spruce, tracts of needle
and thread grass, ash and bone and lives, many lives,
great and small. Sacrificed.
Consumed, consummate, a sorrow, a loss.
Here though in the harbor of my lungs, the terror of their flight has bled from them;
as ash falling with the effortlessness of snow over the taiga, dispersed by the wide, white wings of Saskatoon swans, digested by frog spawn dining in Lake Manitoba, and
rich nourishment for the lady slipper’s threaded roots.
Who says there isn’t enchantment in ashes
Where is the story behind God?