Plutonic rubble, boulders, gravel,
dust storms, sandstorms, stone and bone-dry
desolation, post-nuclear waste, post-firestorm,
the tors and pillars of a city we erased
with fire from the air. Human work.
But we are blameless for this dead debris.
The earth’s heart, under its thin skin,
with magma-red intensity,
overheats its igneous rock
beyond the limits of our own ferocity.
Driving westward on the interstate
above the east escarpment of the Coastal Range
we cross the ridge into a lush valley
green with Pacific rains,
land that seems like God’s work,
in whose name we killed for it and cleared it:
lining streets with oleander, almond,
rows of ginkgo, fig, euphorbia,
white moons of giant clematis,
domesticated flames of rose and lily beds,
nothing here but what we ourselves devised,
undulating fence lines, squared-off farms,
all dimensions ample and humane.

This Issue

December 18, 2008