by Michael Rogner

My mother sends cards with sneaking birds

ready to slip forth like this one titled Peacock painted

by a child trying not to die from cancer. The peacock

has one huge eye backwardly reflecting these strange colors

looming. Purple molars and volcanic craters. The artist’s name

is Jessica and I like to think she has forgotten frightening times

and now worries about college or how to coordinate

her feet and hands to make the car go. I live on the edge

of a great valley caught between floods smothering

bottomlands and fires leaping ridges. The somber scientists

say fires are becoming more frequent and more deadly

and up Butte Creek Canyon lonely charred chimneys rise

over vibrating mustard fields. The last covered

bridge is now sediment swirling beneath the upside down

wings of backswimmers. We have too much water

and too much fire. We have too many days with more heat

than any on record and our snow which once had the power

to draw salmon through the Golden Gate carves muddy rills

in its haste to disappear. Friendly wildlife people just released

two foxes with burned feet. Run foxes there are mice

and other furry lunches. Those grass seeds in your tail come from

another continent. I have no idea how to help any of you.

Say hi to Jessica if you know her. Thank her for this card

in which my mother scrawled the most interesting

pieces of recent and upcoming days. We are connected

even if she lives on the other side of this envelope.

Michael Rogner is a restoration ecologist in Northern California, and lives in Chico with his wife. His poetry has appeared recently in Barrow Street, The Los Angeles Review, The Minnesota Review, Willow Springs and elsewhere.