The trees are crying.

I can hear them.

Their screams fill the air and

echo through the valley,

each howl louder than the last,

more painful than the last,

building and climbing and riding on the last

as the crests and troughs of the sound waves

amplify each other here and

cancel each other there –

a barely constrained tempo,

a barely constrained tempest and

there is nothing I can do for them but listen.

The smoke curls up past the crest of the ridge,

riding on the thermals,

chasing the eagles and hawks

that have already taken to the sky.

Soon it will become a choking black cloud, and

then a great, searing storm of

wind and

ash and


The trees will fall silent,

having finally succumbed,

leaving naught but coals and embers behind.

After a time,

weeks and

months and

days and

seconds and

hours and

minutes later,

green sprouts will poke through the burnt-out embers.

Ferns will fill the valley with color again.

Saplings will reach toward the sky again,

pulling themselves up

along the rays of the sun again, and

then the birds and squirrels and rabbits will return, and

the deer and bear and wolf will return, and

the trees will begin to sing again –

their voices a chorus that fills the world with

harmony again,

melody again,

a joyous verse and refrain again.

But for now –

but for now –

but for now –

but for now they cry, and

there is nothing I can do but