And Then it All Burned. Christine October 20, 2017 Poetry and Spoken Word In October, 2017, wildfires ravages Northern California, destroying 8,400 structures, and leveling the homes of family, friends and neighbors. The material, spiritual and psychological impacts of those fires are still unfolding. This piece was written the week of the fires, as the magnitude of the damage became clear. ‘…And then it all burned.’ She says over steaming mussels In a candle and cloth hideaway on the rocky part of the California coast a confetti light grazing the inner rim of her eyelid, and her red-please-by-the-glass Sangiovese She moves gracefully A streamlined gesture then a pause Laying the linen in her lap Lifting an inquiring eyebrow Offering me water first before refilling her own There’s a small scar on her neck just above the collarbone And laugh lines where her lip color has bled a little Her thick white cotton shirt is open to the third button Revealing a plum-sized amulet of tiger’s eye and gold ….And then it all burned. I didn’t know what to take. My grandmother’s painting. A box of papers, old pictures. Warm clothes, a tent, blankets. Stuff for the dog. For a single moment it’s that night again When the fires ravaged us block by block Winds whipping the chaparral Our neighbors died in their pool The old growth timbers fell onto them huddling together in the dawning light The flames ate the weaving, the painting, the carving, the writing, the planting the art that was the old life Consumed the places we danced, fought, loved Rendered my child homeless Remade us each forever And so it goes, always the encapsulation of infinite moments and many years into a single diminishing phrase I made this book I earned a PhD My wife had cancer I took a company public I raised four children I loved him like that You don’t have to tell me what happened exactly A cloud of your own silent song surrounds you You’re garlanded with a compassion common to those who have lost Badged with an indifference to possessing The poem of your life is tattooed on your forehead Your eyes tell me that you have looked at another with love Your hips say that you have danced I have decided already, if you will have me that I could wake up with you for the next ten thousand mornings We take anise cookies in brown paper and walk to the end of the dock It is high-tide and we drape our feet into the cold waters Awakening the bioluminescent swarm The whole world sparkles now I thank the unknown things that have happened and made you into this woman with the strong back and gentle eyes Who has laid her head onto my shoulder Pulled the fleece around us both, Who holds her gaze wide open to face the winter sea Christine Marie Mason is an American author and poet. Her work includes Indivisible (2016), Love in the Face of Everything (2017), and the upcoming Bending the Bow (2018). You can find out more about her at www.XtineM.com.