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Midseason Report
Ellen Roberts Young

They have names, like hurricanes,

North Star, El Dorado, Jerusalem.

Crews battle winds to tame them,

speak in abstractions of acres, miles

of distant forests.  Amorphous

orange and black fill the screen.


This morning’s television news 

reports three fires:

near Tahoe, where my father led us

    up the mountainside, to fish

    at Cathedral Lake;

above Napa, where I studied,

    walked, learned how grapes

    grow, enjoyed the wine;

in Glacier Park, the pass in cloud

    when we were there, green slopes

    shining, freshly rinsed as it rose.


Ash falls into once clear pools,

ash drifts over grapes and vines,

ash darkens glacier melt.  


Ash on my memories, while new fires,

bigger, fiercer, wind-driven, threaten.

Houses evacuated, houses burn,

the harsher no return I have been spared.

Ellen Roberts Young is a member of the writing community in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She has published two chapbooks with Finishing Line Press, Accidents (2004) and The Map of Longing (2009). Her first full-length book of poetry is Made and Remade, (WordTech Editions, 2014). She is co-editor of Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal and blogs intermittently at

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