18 Jun 2023
After Colorado Conflagration (acrylic)
by Diane Drapcho
Silver birches one by one. Aspen
who know what to quake for. Saplings and
pine duff. Where there is smoke, leaves
dream of running. Manzanitas,
pepperwood, breath of heaven. Not every house
but a damn lot of houses. Where there is
smoke, trees reach skyward. Charcoal, bridges,
landfills. Matchsticks, branches,
middle-school hearts, black cats. Where there
is smoke, there may be women. Salem women or
Hartford. Joan of Arc. Triangle
shirtwaists. Sierra-Nevada sequoias alive
during the Song Dynasty, alive during
Council of Orleans. A cottage full of heretics in
Orleans. Where there is smoke, there may
be Lolita or The Bluest Eye.
Thích Quảng Đức in his robes and lotus.
The Stonewall’s disco ball. Mississippi crosses.
AME altars. The Tsar’s Odessa.
Kristallnacht synagogues. The ovens.
Underbrush. Where there is smoke, someone
feeds on flame.
Behind the poem...
Written after an acrylic painting titled Colorado Conflagration by artist Diane Drapcho, my poem featured in a gallery show in Youngstown, Ohio, called Women Artists: A Celebration. It was sponsored by the local YMCA, and several women writers (including me) were commissioned to write ekphrastic poems inspired by the show’s artwork – some of which were read at a gallery reception.