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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017
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Jenny Ward Angyal
Gibsonville, North Carolina, USA


But Now We Are Many

fire
on the mountain
fire in the mind
ashes ashes
we all fall down

The Smokies: ridge beyond ridge of ancient mountains, wrapped in a soft blue haze of rain and the moist outbreath of trees. The highest peaks are temperate rain forest, mossy and dripping. But now the picture changes . . . because the climate changes. Hot smoke replaces the gentle mist as fire consumes the forest, tinder-dry after months of heat and drought. Crown fires leap from treetop to treetop. High winds drive a firestorm through Gatlinburg, trapping people in their homes where they burn to death. Several days have passed and children are still missing. The Appalachian Trail smolders.

smoke
from distant wildfires
fills my lungs . . .
I dream of the blue planet,
one seed sprouting in ash

Pollen grains tell stories. Drifting like gold dust on a cold wind, grass pollen sifts into lakes, to be buried in mud for 20,000 years. Grass pollen tells of an Ice-Age Europe covered with open steppes where forests should have grown—the climate favored trees, not grasses. But layers of ash tell stories, too—the story of fires that burned the forests, fires set by Paleolithic hunter-gatherers who transformed their world long before the first factory smokestacks began to spew their plumes of ash and deadly gases.

sparks
from a stone-age campfire
scorch the map
crumpled in my hand
a dusty oak leaf


Editor's Note: Jenny Ward Angyal's "But Now We Are Many" was a Finalist in the KYSO Flash One Life, One Earth Writing Challenge. The results of the challenge were published in KYSO Flash, Spring 2017. We're happy to republish "But Now We Are Many," with permission, in this issue of Haibun Today.

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