Every year, the Santa Anas
Rushed down from the high desert.
The winds sang hardest in the blue night,
Blowing through our dreams and turning
Children into small gods
With fingertips that sparked.
The winds blew against nature.
Hot and dry
And drove people from their houses,
Instead of in, children spreading
Their coats for wings.
Some years, the winds set the hills
Above my childhood house on
Poppyfields on fire.
Neighbors gathered in the streets below,
To watch the fire whirl
And breathe the sweet and stringent
Smell of eucalyptus burning.
The fathers spoke of devil winds
And wildfire weather.
The mothers calculated and recalculated
A safe distance from the flames.
The children, though.
We danced in the street,
Excitement leaping crown to crown.
We knew the burned hills
Were the best place to fly kites.
Tossing a square of fabric overhead and running
Down the hill,
Feeling the string snap and suddenly,
We were holding down the sky.
Originally published in the Mississippi Review; reprinted here with permission of the author.