When I was a child
my father brought home oranges,
gold and exotic from groves
that surrounded our city,
small towns called Santa Ana,
San Jacinto, Temecula, Corona del Mar.
Each morning my mother juiced them,
and I remember how I loved to pull
down the long metal handle
that pressed sliced halves flat,
the juice sweet as California's
Now the groves of my childhood
are gone, forgotten in a sea
of red tile roofs and air that kills.
I hold their loss in deep time
to soften sorrow: the long history
of earth remaking itself, tectonic
plates adrift on molten mantle,
continents faulted and folded,
magnetic poles wandering,
even the equator restless,
and all of California
predicted to break away,
in the end an island
worn down to sand.
On such a scale the weight of grief
becomes irrelevant. We learn
to anticipate silence.
And yet I weep for orange blossoms,
the lingering absence of their scent,
in the desolate Santa Ana wind.