Dad calls to tell me Kmart
burned down. Small world of my
childhood—Santa Rosa. My grandmother
bought me sundresses there. Some dresses
I later threw out, stuffed into white
garbage bags to send to the Salvation
Army. We buried my grandmother in
November two years ago or maybe
three. I don’t know. Bad at remembering—
time too fluid, bursts like a grape
on a fine palate. Events
too catastrophic. Kmart is burning.
There must have been so much
smoke but the news prefers fires,
more spectacular blockbuster theatrics.
My childhood is burning. Columbia George burned
in September. I search Kmart is burning
on YouTube. Eleven minute clip of inferno
and disembodied voice of crew
dispatched from Berkeley.
Rendezvous point, the parking
lot but the palm trees and hostas
and shopping carts are burning. Driving
and burning. Everything burned for miles
in the middle of town. The miles
we used to drive in summer to see
my grandmother. Oregon to California.
And my father angry at
traffic, always. Still they are driving
on the screen past midnight. Sometimes
we would arrive in the dark, my grandmother
in the kitchen waiting. Sometimes we would leave
in the dark, my grandmother
on the front porch waving.
There is no stopping because Kmart
is burning. Drive on to find
houses worth saving, something
anything in this landscape still
burning. Slow like a snail winding
through incandescent streets looking
for something not burning. I want to
look away and cannot. Stop it!
I want to say. Stop it. Stop driving.
Stop yelling. Why can’t we just
be normal? Even though I know
we are not, even though you lie
and say we are, say we are perfect.
I believe the lie. Swallow it whole,
but now it is burning, Oh Daddy,
look how it glows.