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A Thomas Fire Poem: ‘’Tis the Week Before Christmas’

Seasonal Stanzas on Life in the Evacuation Zone


Megan and her husband, Steve, live on Via Regina, where they moved six months before the Painted Cave Fire, which burned much of their neighborhood. They were also evacuated for the Gap and Jesusita fires, and she wrote this on day two of being in the Thomas Fire’s voluntary evacuation zone.

’Tis the week before Christmas and all through the house
Our devices on standby for word to GET OUT.
The GO BAGS are ready (have been for a week);
Our list we go over for last-minute tweaks.

We’ve been through this before, more times than most,
Because we live closer to mountains than coast.
We packed passports and photos and personal needs,
Art from the walls, legal docs and house deeds.

We’ve gassed up the cars and charged all our phones.
We’re checking air quality, news, and map zones,
Trying to make sense of a fast-moving snarl;
Thank goodness for updates we’re getting from Carl.

We moved flammable stuff away from the wall
And covered the vents where embers might fall,
Cleaned gutters, trimmed trees and close-growing plants,
Maybe futile but hopeful, our house-saving dance.

The waiting is stressful, an in-between place;
The fire’s not so close to abandon our base,
But too close to do something else or relax,
Because we know too well how fast it attacks.

Marley’s stressed, too, without bark or a whine;
He tells us he’s scared we will leave him behind.
We comfort and pet him and wish he could know
Of course he’ll come with us wherever we go.

Thanks Virginia and Fennells and Sherwoods and Simes,
For offering your homes to us in these times.
Don’t know when (if at all) at your door we will show,
But we’re grateful to know we’ve got somewhere to go.

And our thoughts go out farther to those who have lost
Already so much at such a great cost
And firefighting crews who put so much at stake,
Day after day with hardly a break.

Although Christmas and shopping are far from our mind,
How we care for each other and try to be kind
Is really what matters and makes our day bright.
So best wishes to all, and to all a good night!

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