Friday, August 30, 2013

Dana Gioia: "California Hills in August"

I can imagine someone who found
these fields unbearable, who climbed
the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
cracking the brittle weeds underfoot,
wishing a few more trees for shade.

An Easterner especially, who would scorn
the meagerness of summer, the dry
twisted shapes of black elm,
scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape
August has already drained of green.

One who would hurry over the clinging
thistle, foxtail, golden poppy,
knowing everything was just a weed,
unable to conceive that these trees
and sparse brown bushes were alive.

And hate the bright stillness of the noon
without wind, without motion,
the only other living thing
a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended
in the blinding, sunlit blue.

And yet how gentle it seems to someone
raised in a landscape short of rain–
the skyline of a hill broken by no more
trees than one can count, the grass,
the empty sky, the wish for water.

"California Hills in August" by Dana Gioia, from Daily Horoscope. © Graywolf Press, 1986.

Photography credit: "California Hills," by Jeff Kreulen, 2009 (originally color).


1 comment :

  1. I am a transplanted Californian but well into my state citizenship, over a third of my life here now. And I have grown to love those California hills, now golden, now green and bursting with life. There are likely unwritten poems on them deep in my unrecorded self. So I met this poem with a sense of joy, with a 'yes that is my unarticulated thought,' with a sense of gratitude that Mr. Gioia had taken the time to assemble this verse. Very nice.


Thank you for participating respectfully in this blog's community of readers.