Fire, Then Ice

by | Mar 2, 2022 | Poetry

Sleet threaded the valley,
working wires of glass
through burned chaparral,
interrupting traffic, which
interrupted the news,
which interrupted class.
We never saw the ink-dipped
trees scribbled over the hills.
We only translated their letters
off an old TV in the back.
In chemistry, kids asked how
snowflakes form, not knowing
the answer to everything—
a quirk of water, whims of
hexagons hatched on wind.
In history, we paused a world war
to witness an invasion—
forecasters in a panic of hail
and differentials as lethal
clouds hardened to crystal.
Grown men cried over lawns
and windshields. Grandmas
deputized spatulas for shovels.
The city called in the experts.
Fire, then ice, they explained
to cold-stunned reporters.
In the streets, snow angels
cut class and saw that breath
can be seen. We plowed on
and fought the urge to taste
before it melted out to sea.
The air, electric before
the downpour, fumed like
a snuffed cigarette afterward.

FIRE, THEN ICE by Jean Theron

Photo courtesy of the author.

About The Author


Jean Theron has published in Make: Magazine, Yes! Magazine, Food Tank, and The New Farmer’s Almanac. She works in farmland preservation and as an antiracism trainer and organizer.