Nearly Gone

September 20th, 2016

fire took it all

Lynn and Charlie lost nearly everything in the 2015 Butte Fire of Calaveras County. They physically survived and for awhile lived in a tent city at the frog jumping fairgrounds.  Fortunately an insurance settlement allowed them to buy another home in nearby Amador County and relocate within the year.

Their story is better than most, but it’s so sad.  Our fire anniversary is coming up.  Anniversaries are often cause for reflection.  I had a reflective conversation with Lynn and Charlie yesterday at their nearly empty new house, with no trees and neighbors who can see into windows.  Far cry from acres of shady privacy.

“You see things like this happen to people on TV when they lose everything.  We see and feel sad for them, but turn back to our own lives.  The intensity of their loss has to be lived to be believed…I am never going to be the same.”

Lynn lost her genealogical heritage in the fire, revolutionary war antiques and precious things in keepsake boxes stored away for future generations, gone.

I was moved to write poetry for her.

Blessings to all who lost so much.


2015 Butte fire legacy

my jeweler friend no longer works

a blobmelt inventory breaks her heart

incomprehensible to those who weren’t evacuated


transform twenty minutes before the house burns down into an ugly nightmare

only rubble survives its raw beauty


cherry-pick my jewelry box when my brain says

“I’m coming back”

who wears melted gold around her neck when its clasp no longer opens?


what does the new back look like?


how does a dish cope in a new shape?

will the teacup hang without its handle?


rusty hacksaw suspends in burnt wood

where is the bed when only its twisted box springs remain?


remember heat snap shards in gray ash dirt

water turns to mud where there was once a garden



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