From "What We Lost in the Fire" by Ian Devereux White, San Francisco magazine, November 2017
What We Lost in the Fire
We woke to heavy air, electricity crackers,
a confused clutching bunny. I sped south
(rushed to her, more than 35 years ago)
no stranger to disaster.
Many times we've seen smoke and wondered.
I walked eerie, empty
broken streets. Earthquake stories of lives
lost and wine ruin. I inched through intersections
with dark stoplights. Flames raced up the hillside,
left black chaos where geometric
vineyards had been -
the smoldering mounds,
our friends. We listened to the radio
and heard acres burning, history burning.
How long, happy travelers?
I drove back after dawn through smoke and falling ash,
arrived ready to fight. But:
Black smoke all around us, blue skies above,
unnatural and untouched and
safe. Tourists showed up to drive into
the Atlas fire, so we made sandwiches
in a candlelit kitchen, walked the dark,
and poured wine.
After the fires die down,
we'll crush grapes.