Anything that can go wrong,
will go wrong. It is what the law says.
However, the summer of our prayers
was one of grace in action. An outage
from nine in the morning until three
in the afternoon never occurred
despite all the signs. I witnessed utility
men working in the street as well as
silenced air conditioning in a bodega.
This was only July, yet late autumn
Santa Anas were already blowing miles
east out of the high desert, sparking
chaparral in the foothills and arroyos.
Later, I bought a ten-pound bag of ice
because five pounds wasn’t enough.
I couldn’t carry twenty pounds home.
A homeless woman held out her hand
like a traffic guard asking me to stop
at the crosswalk. I stopped. A vehicle
flashed by the parked armored van.
She saved my life, this angel who said —
Ten pounds of ice float on a heat wave
in a city where all the refrigerators died
in a rolling blackout that never occurred
because Murphy’s law in reverse
operated as grace in action. Your ice
box, on the other hand: God incarnate,
fire and ice burning simultaneously.
If anything can go wrong, it will,
so open the door—stand in the light.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.