My folks’ home sits on Holland Creek
between the Bob Marshall Wilderness
and the Mission Mountains in Montana,
where one measure of time is fire season.
Summer lightning hits trees and choppers pinpoint blazes,
trying to get there before the fire gods flourish—
before they raze habitat, houses, and pieces of lives.
Deer parade in single file through yards,
eating black moss that hangs from lodgepole and ponderosa,
eating seed spilled from Mom’s big feeder out front.
The valley is a grizzly corridor between two ranges.
Phones ring out sightings of mountain lion and bear.
“Keep an eye on your dogs.” or,
“Sherriff found a lair.”
Five-toed, foot-long tracks in new snow
end spring walks with the dog.
“Griz tracks west of the campground.”
Out the window, the lingering creek
reflects evergreen ghosts
that capture last night’s snow .
Perfect postured pine stand together
dense along Holland’s eastern shore.
Out back, away from the creek
Dad cleared a boatload of trees
and turned them into tables, shelves, and bird feeders.
Pulling down pine with tractors, Dad and his saw-mill
create a partly forested paradise, civilizing trees
to protect his home from lightning fires
that turn everything to ash.