Arts Council Vice Chair shares poem on wildfires at NASAA Leadership Institute

At the California Arts Council, Council members and staff certainly aren’t limited to wearing only one hat when it comes to their relationship with the arts. Whether it’s dance, music, film, literature, visual or performing arts—creativity thrives here.

A recent moving example comes from our Council Vice Chair Nashormeh Lindo. Last month, while attending the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Leadership Institute in Portland, Lindo took the opportunity to represent our state by sharing a heartfelt poem she penned about the recent wildfires in Northern California. The text of the poem is below.

California Wildfires.17

They came, 
crept up on us,
in the middle of the night.
In darkness, CAWildfires17_byNashormehLindo
the Diablo Devil winds
fanned flames,
Sending spooky sparks
Ember imps, flying over hilltops and trees,
and skittering across roads, highways and boulevards.
Spreading mischief, conjuring up evil and
creating a haze of dry orange
smoky, choking air.
California dreams turned nightmarish.
It is unrelenting.
Everything is burning.
Words like, apocalyptic,
devastation, scary,
other worldly
Moonscape
come to mind.
It is the scorched Earth.
Come back to haunt us.
A desolate landscape is all that is left.
People, trees, homes, vineyards,
Gone.

Days later while
Escaping
Fleeing, in search of cleaner air
One can still see plumes of
terrifying toxic smoke
From the air.
The fires rage on.
It’s hard to breathe
particulate.

I think of
Kingsolver’s words:

“The fire ran ahead at times, and sometimes flagged, as if growing tired like the rest of us. The heat was unspeakable.
I imagined the taste of water.”

California Arts Council Vice Chair Nashormeh Lindo
California Arts Council Vice Chair Nashormeh Lindo.

Dazed people gaze at each other;
and at their charred and ruined things,
after fleeing terror in the middle of the night,
and tracing the tracks of sooty tears,
Days, spent in evacuation despair.
Loss, exhaustion, raw grief and disbelief
makes us all equals.
Makes us care,

What will rise from these ashes?
Belief in Healing Hope.
The Courage to Create
To rebuild with the innate tools of
Music, Poetry, Dance,
Theater, Painting, Photography.
Mapping the path back,
to see beyond the seeming
Abyss.

Nashormeh Lindo
10/12/17
Portland, Oregon

(Excerpt from the Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver)

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