Linda Scheller

Parse the Sky

Late August, the roads buzz with chopper trucks
swirling specks of stalk in their reckless wake, 
shedding veils of dust. Windows, cars, and leaves
wear erosion’s coat and shiver in the sluggish dawn.
Silage trails lead to mown fields, brittle arrays 
like grids of broken pencils. What the corn wrote, 
lifted from its fingers by wind, is anybody’s guess. 
Increasingly, we humans think we can buy our way
out of the mess we’ve made. I’m old enough to know 
nature’s having none of that. Tasteless tomatoes
and manicured orchards edge this parched acre,
but sometimes a coyote passes through, or an owl 
shrieks in the darkness. Ghosts of oak galleries 
stand sentinel in the parallel world of the past
where the air was clean and the river ran clear.

Across the road, late corn writes on the amber sky.
Polar ice melts, oceans rise, and weather patterns 
snap like sheets, spraying hurricanes and lightning
that torches California. I fill the car with heirlooms
and photos, cat carriers by the door. All those years
of teaching science—what will become of them?
I’m old enough to know this won’t be my problem
much longer. My dear children, dear students,
I can only pity you. The young march in the streets.
Parse the sky for signs of fire, vectors of change.