After the Southland Fires
Our new North County streets sleep under flows
of ash. Sound walls and clay pots glazed with owls
shine with dust. Storm-drains swirl with white cinders.
We shrink from watering pine trees that bear
the talons of defiant birds. Instead
we chase quarters like swallows hawking flies.
Outside our little shops, computerized
sprinklers whisper as we edge perfect strips
of ice plant and sweep the divine sidewalks.
Some nights in September, we amble down
the sun-smoothed, unvarnished stairs at D Street.
We grunt at the democracy of kelp.
Pagan weeds tear at our asphalt seawalls.
But our roads will come. Sleek flames will fall back
and a cool pride plant itself in concrete.
This Negative Image of stanzas 1-5 & 17
from Robert Lowell's "For the Union Dead"
is ©2004 by Lance Newman