August 17, 2016
Things We Still Must Learn During the California Drought
The drought gives the ground wrinkles
And makes us realize the Earth's age.
But I've still never seen a full lake in California,
Only full moons in your pupils. You can't hide
From drought like you can the rain. A native Californian
Knows that yellow grass isn't dead but hibernating.
That ice cubes refract light like prisms but melt in seconds.
That the cracks in the earth are only a prelude
To the San Andreas rupture. But some things
We still must learn: that your hair
Is flying tinder, that a kiss is a careless cigarette
In the woods. Even the firemen cannot stop
This scorched earth policy. Destroy a town
For a second and a bomb sounds off instead.
We are retreating, a tsunami receding from shore.
In our wake, pine cones open and a forest starts anew.
Even when California goes through a seemingly perpetual stretch of cloudless and rainless days, I have to remind myself that everything is temporary. Of course, drought is detrimental to humans, but I don't know if it is inherently bad. I wonder if love — all sorts — parallels this. We certainly like to think it is great and everlasting, but all things must end, whether by choice or by circumstance. The main takeaway of my poem is that we don't know these things. But something we refer to as hope still grows in the anticipation or aftermath of such events. Maybe drought and all of its associated metaphors and derived meanings are simply a fact of life, just like the renewal of a forest even as a fire rips through it.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published weekly by Glass Poetry Press.
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