After the Hull Mountain Fire

That third summer after the Hull Mountain Fire
I picked black-cap raspberries with my youngest son
Where my upper cabin had been..
& as he was five —we made pie..
Half dozen pies if my memory is right
& even if it is not I do remember
A sweetest of wild tart taste to those lightly sugared pies
We made in my propane oven late in August, &
Shared with friends & me having survived
Two years of single fatherhood,
Adept at answering all
Questions with not all the facts
Told to this child
Amid fireweed, blowing white seed
For a light purpled white breeze
From that still black landscape where fire had burned
& we were at the upper cabin site where I wrote..
Where the black-cap raspberries had vined into profusion &
Were delivering black goodness one-by-one
Into my stainless steel pail & my son was happy,
Two years before this afternoon
He’d put his cherub three year-old face into his small hands
Drowned with tears &
behind our house he sobbed, “I have lost my family!”
One year before that day,
I tended the fire line I built with my oldest son;
Before the fire hit us–when it did
It burned slowly downhill from the box canyon
Over the ridge where much differently it set pine needles, in
Hundred foot high tops of old growth
Ponderosa Pine, curled to the exact direction this
Hundred twenty foot conflagration blast furnace
Came out of the canyon & spilled downhill
Creeping & calming to a twenty foot wall of flame,
Half mile from the ridge & thirty feet from my back door,
Three years afterwards you could still see in tops of Ponderosa snags’
Black needles pointing the flames exact direction from
Hell of that day where,
After the fire line was complete around our home &
Having taken my family all to the valley below
To watch our mountain burn
By a swimming pool—fearful but safe..
I  came back to tend the fire line alone
Arriving pretty much as the fire did & taking
Comfort in this feat I then began to keep it that way
With a shovel until my good friend Graham
Evaded National Guard at the bottom of the hill
& drove up the three miles of bad road into
A forest fire to help me
Our fire-line held that night probably because
A Mexican fire crew found us at two in the morning,
& relieved our aching backs
& I made them all heavily sugared coffee
& as they tended the line,
A burning tree fell on the house at three A.M.
Three of them cut it away with axes
At smoking dawn, I remember talking
With their foreman about the beaches of Nayarit..
San Francisco, lo de Marco & La Penita de Jaltembre,
We saved the lower cabin which was our home;
It did not burn that night; I lost the upper cabin.
This fire had turned a corner like an angry police car
& burned back uphill consuming its red wood deck & its
Windows blew out on the side hill as
Fire & 5000 acres of burning forest had
Melted my cast iron wood cook-stove
Into a sway-back hulk from a greater furnace
Than itself & it is now a rusted artifact twenty feet
From the black-cap berry vines
I got pies from that day..
Fire took the life of a tractor operator a day after
It took my cabin
& one year from the fire I was divorcing..
& for a time
I raged like a hundred-foot blaze.

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