California Hills in August
can imagine someone who found
fields unbearable, who climbed
hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
the brittle weeds underfoot,
a few more trees for shade.
Easterner especially, who would scorn
meagerness of summer, the dry
shapes of black elm,
oak, and chaparral, a landscape
has already drained of green.
who would hurry over the clinging
foxtail, golden poppy,
everything was just a weed,
to conceive that these trees
sparse brown bushes were alive.
hate the bright stillness of the noon
wind, without motion.
only other living thing
hawk, hungry for prey, suspended
the blinding, sunlit blue.
yet how gentle it seems to someone
in a landscape short of rainó
skyline of a hill broken by no more
than one can count, the grass,
empty sky, the wish for water.
Daily Horoscope, Graywolf Press,
by permission of the author.