Blades of brown grass and saplings’ cracking juvenile leaves
blow in a foreboding breeze, unquenched and dead.  Survivors
look skyward to find death’s herald a sea of blue, a view
obscured by smoke clouds carrying the crackling noises

of nature’s unforgiving housekeeper devouring the earth
by acres, bearing down valleys as fast as its accomplice,
the wind, can carry it.  Broad hills stand bald, embarrassed,
smoldering under burden of a heat to rival the sun that sinks

toward sleep.  Red-orange hues give direction to sweat soaked
men who climb through the dark carnage on their way to broker
a peace.  At sunrise the silent fallen lie waiting, dressed in a funeral
pall of white ash, to be washed away by a storm come too late.