By Riverdave Owen

Duke Forest Annual Gathering  

November 15, 2012


Two gray squirrels sat upon a log

As smoke swirled through the air

The sight of this swift dousing was

Quite more than they could bear.


One asked, "What right do humans have

To quench our Brother Fire?

Whose gifts of transformation and

Renewal so inspire,


New herbs to grow abundantly

To feed our hungry pups

The sweeping of the forest floor

That needs to freshen up." 


His mate said, "Urban real estate

With all its grassy lawn

Is valued more than forest haunt

With mystic wood thrush song.


For deep inside the human mind

A dreadful specter dwells

Their fear of that great punishment

The burning fire of Hell!"


"But what happens," the gray squirrel asked,

"With Brother Fire suppressed

And forest floor becomes too full

Of dead debris excess?


And when one sultry summer day 

A bolt of lightning falls

Will not the conflagration then

Incinerate us all?"


His mate said allegorically 

"On that Great Day the sky

Will darken like we've never seen

And as we run we'll cry,


Alas! This is Apocalypse 

Their Seers once foretold

Would sweep across our forest home

And turn it to charcoal.


And on that day the deepest fear

Of mankind could prevail

Our Eden spoiled by foolishness

With little to avail ..."


So at this vesper gathering

We ponder such demise

And honor Brother Fire and ask 

He grant us sylvan eyes.


So we at Duke may ever see

A natural world view 

And not accept the Devil's hand

Disguised in red or blue.



Photo by Duke Forest Staff: Controlled burn in Duke Forest