(Dedicated to the firefighters lost in Arizona)
"Do not expect again a phoenix hour,
The triple-towered sky, the dove complaining,
Sudden the rain of gold and heart's first ease
Traced under trees by the eldritch light of sundown."
an ascending red-tailed hawk collided
with a power line and was electrocuted.
It fell to the ground, sparking an ember
in the sere mountain brush. The sun-baked
terrain let the flames spread,
fanned to fury by mountain pass winds
in country few claimed and all ignored.
The unnoticed fire became a hungry blaze
spurred by a westerly breeze.
Creatures living in the no-man’s-land either ran
before the flames or slid underground as their instincts led.
Helped neither by running nor slithering into the sand,
their eyes fastened on the mesmerizing
dance of enveloping flames,
nostrils flared until the acrid smoke displaced oxygen.
Animal hearts raced, legs flailed without progress.
Erratic wind shifts pushed the firestorm
toward homes set against the base of purple mountains
then back upon itself, folding nineteen brothers in its arms.
Crying, saluting mourners held small flags and lined streets
to the ceremonious dirge of bagpipes. A motorcycle escort
of fire trucks, policemen and honor guards lead the somber return
of nineteen gleaming white hearses bearing flag-draped caskets.
Hear our prayers for the fallen sons, nineteen young and valiant.