Hot Spot

Because in the library last night I felt utterly helpless
to do anything other than assure others
in the firelight that everything would be fine
and hope that my words were not hollow,
when I saw a chance to make a difference
I leapt for it.

The hillside sloping up from Seaside dorm
to the parking lot is still smoking. No open flames,
but several hot spots. So I prop the suite door open,
Empty a trash can, turn on the shower,
fill the can, and march to the hill.

I splash the water on the smoking earth.
The ground popps, hisses, and cracks,
and the parched, porous dirt
drinks in the water faster than a sponge
but still looks dry.

Staring down at the smoke, I wonder
why the water did nothing for the heat.
I then wonder: who do I think I am
to emulate the job of a trained professional,
one of the hardest and deadliest jobs on the planet?
I splash more water, and the earth spits at me,
so I stomp on the dirt, the smoke singeing my boots
as I try to blot out the heat. Woolsey sprays me
with ash and smoke, coating my bare arms
and my tank top, reminding me that I have none
of a fireman’s gear. Am I really doing any good?
Or am I just burying embers that will emerge later?
The firefighters left this hill smoking.
Was it from foresight, or oversight?

I don’t know. All I do know is, I’m tired of feeling helpless,
so I head back to my suite to refill the can with more water.

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