For Ruth, After The Wildfires
for Ruth Bader Ginsburg / after Frank O’Hara
Tonight at the drug store I buy
as many condoms and emergency
contraceptives as I can carry,
and a candy bar from the stand at the front,
because isn’t all this sadness deserving
of something sweet?
Ruth, Ruth, Ruth: On the walk home
I whisper your name like a prayer,
smoke still hanging heavy
in the dampening evening air,
the rain announcing itself too little,
Two towns away the next two towns
have already disappeared to cinder—
the boot print of a careless god
stamped into the fir.
Ruth, Ruth: What are we going to do
without you? The air is still
too thick with ash to breathe.
Editor’s Note: This poem effectively portrays the cognitive dissonance resulting from the dual tragedies. The desperation caused by the wildfires on the US West coast during last summer (and many summers before that) and the indifference of nature is shown theough a few short stanzas.
Raye Hendrix is a writer from Alabama. Her debut micro-chapbook, Fire Sermons, is forthcoming this Summer from Ghost City Press. Raye is the winner of the 2019 Keene Prize for Literature and Southern Indiana Review’s 2018 Patricia Aakhus Award. Her work has been featured on Poetry Daily and in 32 Poems, Shenandoah, Cimarron Review, Poetry Northwest, Zone 3, and elsewhere. Raye is a PhD student at the University of Oregon studying Deafness, Disability, and Poetry.