a fine dust, by Sue McMahon

fine dust

no pine needles

no dead leaves

or any crunchy duff that should

lay on the forest floor is left

nowhere for birds to peck at insects

crawling inside the normal layer

of nature’s fluff

only fine dust

of the smallest particles

the kind you inhale unexpectedly

and makes you choke

now the birds are hungry

the rabbits and moles are gone

after the roar of flames tore through Grizzly Flats

and scattered humans across the county

many locals never returned

some camped at churches or the Safeway parking lot

if only we could have done slow, clean burns decades ago

maybe, just maybe

this fire/land catastrophe

we are living would not even exist

fine dust, a fine dust

is where I came from and

dust is where I will eventually return to

and a fine gray dust I shall be


-Sue McMahon