Fire and Rain
For Storm Thomas

When the rain wakes me
at that early hour,
no longer night
and not yet morning,
I think of you, my now-gone friend.
I measure your absence in seasons—
that first fall of endless rain and floods,
of mudslides and collapsing cliffs,
overflowing dams and evacuations;
the mountain trails we used to hike
blocked off before I could return, alone;
each “Storm Update” email alert
more cutting than cautionary, each
bringing me back to that first email,
the one that informed me
of your demise.
That second fall, wind storms
ripped through the mountains,
roared into residential zones,
left freeway-jumping fires in their wake.   
All through that dry summer of your departure—
before the fire, before the rain—
you struggled to reinvent yourself,
wondering how far a man could fall,
how many mistakes he could make
before that initial spark inspiring change
would wane and, then,
snuff out.         
Tonight the rain falls hard,
disrupting sleep, disturbing dreams,
washing away
last season’s ashes.

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