Birds woke me, an angry crackling exactly like grass fire.  Nocturnal creatures must have paused outside their dens, listening, and tested the air for smoke before settling down to sleep—just to make certain that glow meant sunrise and not the hills burning.

We’re all on edge now. We know what a spark can do, mere carelessness; disappointment like a shard of glass focusing the afternoon glare or an arsonist in us with a smoldering grudge.  Sooner or later, something always ignites.  No one makes it to the first rain without tasting ashes.

About Don: Born in the southern San Joaquin Valley and have lived here for most of my life, publishing poetry for the past fifty years.  Retired from teaching in a nearby prison; my wife Chris and I live on her family’s cotton farm. Publications include Been There, Done That (2002), Sittin’ on Grace Slick’s Stoop (2006), Turning Sixty (2008), Where We Live (2009), and Everything Barren Will Be Blessed (2012). Back Roads won the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize for 2008. Allan M. Jalon’s profile, “Planted in the San Joaquin,” appeared in the LA Times and remains available online.