Waldo Canyon Fire

Colorado, July 2012

by Patricia Duffy


Notice was given.
Pressed for time, he took to his shed to prepare a rain barrel
For the downspout outside the new baby's room.
She weeded the tender scallions and young tomato plants,
Their green globes holding tight,
Plants nurtured indoors from seed
Before their three-week-old daughter had come into the world.
Now the green arms reaching,
they struggled up through a gray ash blanket.

First in the car was her nubby childhood teddy bear,
Knit decades ago, its stitches gray with age.
Then the turtle-shaped cookie jar.
Was there room to save both the wedding pictures and family recipe box?
Extra diapers? The breast pump.

He picked up the socket set and adjustable wrenches from his tool box.
Staring at the rowboat he and his dad had made,
He ran his hand along the smooth varnished birch, dusted in gray ash,
Giving the bow a slap to hear the sound,
Before lowering the door to the shed.

Shielding their baby from the punishing wind,
They shared one last longing look back.
He turned the car down a mountain road that hadn't yet been closed,
A road choked with traffic
Shared with bear and deer.

A seismic upheaval
Breaks the rhythm of family.


Copyright © 2013 by Patricia Duffy

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