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California Hills in August

California Hills in August

I reread this favorite poem by a California poet who also has an Eastern sensibility. I too am bi-coastal but at heart a native Californian. Please enjoy California Hills in August on this August day.

image

California Hills in August

Poem by Dana Gioia

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.

Photo credit: Two Trees in Ventura California by Carsten Schertzer (Wikimedia Commons)

In My San Diego Garden and Kitchen

In My San Diego Garden and Kitchen