Sunday, November 3, 2019

Beneath the Surface



Beneath the surface
a firefighter reflects,
even cries.
They did it — they didn’t let the fire
spread beyond 101.
They were not going to repeat
what happened two years ago.
They were not going to
let this one kill more people and
burn thousands of homes.
Beneath the surface
even though 77,000 acres burned,
they succeeded.

Beneath the surface
the new CEO of PG&E gets a
2.5 million dollar salary.
What if that money went to
update equipment, poles,
put wires underground?

Beneath the surface we pay our 
electric bill by flashlight.

Beneath the surface
no matter how many households
had their electricity shut off
a single jumper on a tower broke
and set off a spark
that seems to have started it all.*

Beneath the surface
I’m exhausted from carrying around 
all my valuables in and out of my car
for four days.
Bad air still hurts my lungs,
I had to cancel my class and now
I’m in bed with a cold.
I blew a fuse last night.
Did they turn our power off again?
No, I still see light in the next room,
but how that thought sent panic
through my body.

Above the surface
we’ll get past this one. 
Friends will help friends
and life will go on.

But beneath the surface
we are living powerless to the wind,
in fear of flames
and always knowing what we will pack
the next time around. 


*The cause of the fire has not been determined. But according to PG&E, a jumper on a tower, a metal connector between an incoming and outgoing electrical line, broke seven minutes before the fire was reported. The 230,000-volt power line that runs through the 40-year-old tower, critical to electrical operations, had not been included in the outages. PG&E has not provided the exact location, but investigators were seen under this tower off Kincade Road in subsequent days, with the area cordoned off. (from the San Francisco Chronicle — October 31, 2019 2:20 p.m.)