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Pa Valley Fire Sky Poem


PA Valley Fire Sky
by Robert Cain

Sometimes the sky
would turn the color of blood
and through the valley would bang
the sounds of iron smelting pots
cooling down.

My most vivid memory is Fall
when after the wild cacophony of trees
the sky would glow alizarin crimson
to Indian red and melt from mauve
back into a chilly black
speckled with stars.

Of course there were smells of sulfur
acrid hot be-dragoned smells which
grabbed one by the nose and held one prisoner.

Why prisoner?

Could it be that even after all these years
I can never get that burning from my soul?
Could it be that even now the smell of leaves
bursting into flames and floating
like lace tracers in the gray smoke
make me watch how high they will go? . . .
Make me wish they would not stop
or fade or die the way things do.

And what a sky there was when clouds
moved in from out of state
and took up residency only three or four feet
above our heads.
You see, on the hillside
where the wind gathered smells
it also gathered soft silent clouds
that hid the moon and the children.
In their residency, they never stayed long enough
to appreciate the silence Winter brought.
Always moving on, the massive canopy
would wave like sails being set
like sheets on clotheslines
beckoning us to tell the world
where we would want to go.

What a sky,
when in the throws of sulfur,
it turns in on itself a bubbling cauldron
churning out a memory in one
as hard as any steel.
Its structures reminders of solid work
and pays that went for that house
on the hill
and the four kids they raised
to witness the grand displays.

Not prisoner as much as dreamer
the bombs bursting in air
it's the end of the world we hear
when from the mouths of babes
comes such wise utterances.

Run. Run. Ollie Ollie in come free!

Yet, when they arrive
cheeks burned by the icy cold
and boot buckles so covered with ice
they needed to be chipped away,
they could never escape
that vision of the sky.


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