Traversing the hardscrabble hillside,
scattered shale makes empty promises
beneath your feet, rock
over boulder, beige
The day leans long toward the west
and monotony clings to you like dust,
spattered in your sweat.
Below, sage and bitterbrush smear
to the far horizon. You tire
of the sameness. And you wonder
if God has grown tired, too.
In answer, at your feet, a sudden spray
of scarlet—Indian paintbrush,
rooted in sandstone.
Surfing waves of high meadow
wasteland, your boots trample
the blackened grass, lift
a memory of smoke‐strangled skies,
wind, coughing cinders,
and the cries of those who fled.
At the perimeters, scorched
and juniper—bear intimate testimony
to the arrogance of man, careless
keeper of the flame.
Humbled in the face of such destruction,
you stumble to find,
midst charcoal and ashes,
a solitary green seedling. Nearby,
a thrush begins to sing.
With a tweak of the faucet, steam rises
to transform the temperate space
behind your shower curtain.
You enter your porcelain rainforest,
step on a blue plastic tugboat.
A curse foams up
into your throat, but before it can bubble
out, you consider existence
minus blue plastic tugboats,
wooden trains and Hot Wheels cars.
This child, thrust into your ordered life,
has roiled it into chaos
and cluttered your neat, neutral
rooms with tissue paper
collages, lopsided dream catchers
and crayoned I love you’s—small surprises
of great magnitude.